NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – It’s not that Sharife Cooper doesn’t care, it’s just that he simply gets it.
This spring and summer, Cooper has easily been one of the most productive players in any class on any circuit.
That much was evident when he was named Nike EYBL Offensive Player of the Year. The EYBL is widely regarded as the toughest of the three shoe circuits.
Cooper averaged 20.9 points, 6.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds & 1.4 steals and helped AOT (Ga.) post a 13-3 EYBL regular season record. AOT led the league in scoring (77.7 points per game).
But when it came time to name all-league teams, Cooper made the second team.
“That kind of stuff doesn’t bother me,” Cooper said. “What matters to me is what I think of how I’m playing.”
So far so good.
Through two games at Peach Jam, Cooper, a rising junior point guard who is ranked No. 10 overall in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 for 2020, is averaging 30.5 points, 9.5 assists, six rebounds and 3.5 steals.
Other recruiting outlets don’t have Cooper ranked in the top 20 nationally.
“I really taught myself to only worry about what I could control,” Cooper said. “That stuff will make you crazy trying to worry about someone else’s opinion of where you’re ranked. What I can control is how hard I work and how hard I play.”
Though, sure, he takes a peek at different player rankings from time to time and, yeah, he notices when players that he’s consistently outplayed get the nod over him, but, in his own mind, Cooper knows that he’s the best player in the country.
“That’s how I carry myself every time I step on the court,” Cooper said. “My mindset makes me the player that I am. Of course you want to be recognized for what you do, but, good or bad, what people say or don’t say doesn’t define me. I’m giving 100 percent regardless.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY