At the beginning of each new year, Phenom Hoops works to assemble a series of articles centered around unsigned senior prospects. Last season, over one hundred players from North Carolina went on to play at the Division I, II, III or NAIA levels, and that number looks likely to continue increasing with the current senior class. Typically, we take a closer look at guys who are overlooked and underrated, and today’s edition will highlight Daniel Cooper of Grimsley High School.
We’ve covered Cooper countless times over the last few years, including prior to the season in our “Get to Know” series, stating, “With major pieces (like Ahmil Flowers) departing, Cooper is going to be tasked with being the Whirlies’ leader on a nightly basis. Though it seems like a tall order, Cooper has already shown flashes of being their focal point. There were times last season where his identity as a tough, smart, high-motor forward just naturally led to impressive production. He dominates the glass, runs the floor very well, and takes advantage of countless second-chance opportunities. Cooper plays a very simple, straightforward game—but opponents still struggle to contain him. On paper, there could be questions about how his game translates to the next level. However, Cooper is the type of player that every team can utilize and should have scholarship-level programs pursuing him over the next twelve months.” We saw him most recently against Ragsdale, where we stated, “It would be very difficult to go against calling Cooper the best overall performer from this contest. He’s so naturally productive, able to legitimately utilize his nonstop motor and exceptional nose for the ball to walk into a nightly double-double. Cooper displays great feel for the game and it’s evident in his positioning—especially as a two-way rebounder. He’s a strong finisher with touch and the physicality to absorb contact around the basket. Cooper’s steady, straightforward identity should make him coveted by various types of programs, as he doesn’t even require play calls or a ton of offensive touches to make a lasting impact.”
Although his recruitment hasn’t necessarily matched his incredible production, there’s still no debating Cooper and his abilities as a clear college-level player. It’s genuinely head-scratching to see social media posts and college coaches constantly giving praise to “guys who put the team first,” yet don’t show appropriate attention to someone like Cooper. He shares a frontcourt with one of the most physically imposing athletes to come through Greensboro over the last decade, and still finds a way to control the glass on a nightly basis. Cooper’s combination of IQ, motor, toughness, and sheer nose for the ball makes him an absolute problem for opponents. He applies great defensive pressure, makes smart decisions with the ball, and can lead a team in scoring simply by filling in the gaps offensively. His per-game averages of 20.3 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.0 BPG with 61% FG and seven double-doubles should speak for itself. Let’s not overthink this one, as Cooper is a proven asset and has a clear place at the next level.