For more than a decade the state of Kentucky has failed to consistently produce high quality college basketball prospects. Now, the KHSAA is keeping one of their best college prospects on the sideline.
De’Von Cooper is a 6’4″ 3-star shooting guard who averaged 17.2 points and 4 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Waggener High School in 2014-15. Considered a top 300 player nationally, Cooper transferred to Findlay Prep. Now he wants to return to Waggener for his senior season but the KHSAA has denied his eligibility.
When people wonder why prep basketball has suffered in the state of Kentucky over the last 20 years, prep schools are the first to blame. Rajon Rondo and D’Angelo Russell are just two NBA players who left KHSAA basketball early for prep school. Now, the KHSAA is turning away potentially a Rondo or a Russell because he wants to play in his home state.
The KHSAA denied Cooper’s request to play because he must sit out a year after transferring. Somehow, returning from a prep school more than a thousand miles away is not an exemption in their rule book. The Courier-Journal reports Cooper has one more appeal left.
I understand giving consequences for a kid who left for prep school, then returned to play for a traditional power like Ballard or Scott County. Cooper is returning to the school he used to attend, Waggener; not exactly a traditional power. He simply wants to play for his school. Instead, they are not going to let him play basketball at all. It’s unfair to the kid, it’s unfair to the school and it’s weakening what used to be the KHSAA’s premiere product — basketball.
For those who don’t care about this topic at all, you should know that this could affect UK. Calipari needs a ton of guards in next year’s recruiting class. Cal could also use a few three or four-year players. Cooper is the kind of kid who could get hot at the end of the year, lead Waggener to the Sweet 16 and earn a scholarship to Kentucky. Many people thought Dunbar’s Taveion Hollingsworth would be that guy before he committed to WKU; Cooper is ranked two spots higher in the 247 Composite Rankings.
Unfortunately, Cooper may not get another chance to play high school basketball because the KHSAA can’t keep up with the times.