Lipscomb’s full-court press netted a men’s basketball commitment this week, as Franklin Road Academy guard Kenny Cooper announced his plans to sign with the Bisons during the November recruiting period.
“The coaches have recruited me and wanted me on their team since my sophomore year,” said the 6-foot Cooper, who averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and four steals for the Panthers as a junior to help them to a 24-8 finish while earning Division II-A Mr. Basketball finalist honors last season.
“I’m really good friends with some guys on the team that really wanted me there, and I realized it would be the best fit for me.”
Cooper also considered Ohio Valley Conference rivals Austin Peay and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, as well as Furman, before settling on the Bisons. Once he arrives on campus, he’ll join former teammate Rob Marberry – who originally signed with Western Kentucky and spent last season there before transferring – and ex-Battle Ground Academy guard Nathan Moran.
He’ll also be following in the footsteps of his high school coach. John Pierce played at Lipscomb and became the all-time leading scorer in men’s college basketball history, surpassing ex-Bison post and current Lipscomb athletics director Philip Hutcheson.
“Coach Pierce … told me it was my decision and to make the right one,” Cooper said. “He wanted me to make my decision.
“I’m excited. I’ve been getting lots of calls and texts from people excited about watching me play right here at home, excited to see me move on to the next level.”
While Pierce didn’t exert a lot of influence on Cooper, he is pleased with the outcome.
“I don’t think I influenced him at all, but as a former Bison, I couldn’t be happier,” Pierce said. “I wasn’t trying to push him, one way or the other. But it’s a great decision for Kenny. I’m really excited for him and really excited for Lipscomb.
“It’s a great fit for him. Knowing (Lipscomb coach) Casey Alexander and the kind of man he is, the kind of program he’s trying to build, I think Kenny is a great fit for them and what they’re trying to do. And Kenny’s a great kid regardless of what kind of player he is, but he’s a great player, very competitive. Whatever level he wound up at, he was going to rise to that challenge. If he’d gone to a major Division I program, he’d have found a way to play. He has a real knack for the game.
“He’s going to go there and do well.”