John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff have been working hard to stabilize the future of their favorite position – the point guard.
The target they’re currently locked in on? 2020 point guard Sharife Cooper.
Cooper is participating in the Nike EYBL in Indianapolis this weekend and I got a chance to meet up with him after he posted 29 points, five rebounds, and 11 assists for his squad, the AOT Running Rebels, based out of Georgia.
The five-star guard and 19th overall prospect according to ESPN said that Kentucky has been in constant contact with him.
“They’ve [Kentucky] been coming a lot. They show their face a lot,” Cooper said. “They’ve been to all the games. It’s really picking up with them. They show a lot of interest.”
Along with the Cats, a familiar face is also chasing the sought after lead guard – Bruce Pearl. Cooper described Kentucky and the Auburn Tigers as the two teams who have been on him the most.
There had been some chatter that Cooper was considering reclassifying to 2019 in order to replace Tigers guard Jared Harper, who left for the NBA, but that has been disproved.
Cooper noted that a couple of blue bloods – North Carolina and Duke – haven’t had much, if any, contact with him directly. Which should be noteworthy considering Cooper said he and his AOT teammate B.J. Boston have had discussions about potentially joining forces at the next level.
“We talk about that [teaming up] all the time,” Cooper said. “It’s really the best fit. You know, he’s gotta make the best decision for himself. And if that’s playing where I go, then I feel like we’re gonna be good.”
Boston is considered the sixth best player in the 2020 class according to ESPN and has been widely considered a Duke lean.
Bringing in Cooper alone would be a massive get. Packaging him and Boston together would be unfair.
Cooper even said that he is willing to play alongside other stars, even ones that play the same position as him.
“It doesn’t matter,” Cooper said about playing next to another high profile guard. “If we have chemistry and we play together, we’ll all be good.”
*Check out this 37-point performance from his trip to Atlanta.*
Standing at an even 6-feet, Cooper isn’t as big as a typical Calipari point guard, but he has the quickness and vision to make up for that.
He might already be one of the best instinctual passers in his class but he can also score on anyone. And when I say anyone, I mean anyone. Through six EYBL games (two in Indianapolis and four in Atlanta), Cooper is averaging over 28 points along with right at eight assists per game. He led the EYBL in scoring after the four games in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago with over 31 points per game.
His defense shouldn’t be ignored, either. He’s been a brick wall in Indianapolis whenever he digs deep into his stance.
But he’s a playmaker first and foremost, although you wouldn’t know from talking to him. He constantly repeated the phrase “make the right play” and he takes that to heart. It’s how he styles his game.
“Just naturally wanting to make the right play,” Cooper said. “Whatever is open, that’s what you take.”
Come on down.