|Ohio's D.J. Cooper became the first player to ever record more than 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a collegiate career. (usatoday.com)|
Many of you probably recognize the name D.J. Cooper thanks to Ohio's run in the NCAA Tournament last season. But Cooper was making a name for himself on the court long before last March.
This is the time of year where outstanding players who stayed until their senior year reach impressive career milestones and break school and national records. Cooper broke an NCAA record Tuesday against Buffalo, and what makes this record special, aside from the sheer difficulty, is that no other collegiate player has been able to accomplish this feat.
That's players from peach baskets to today's future NBA stars that never accomplished what Cooper just did.
Cooper is the first and only player to reach more than 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a college career. Let that sink in a second, because that combination is truly remarkable. First off, a player has to find success from the start of his career to reach those totals. What is impressive is how well-rounded a player needs to be to accomplish these statistics together. Obviously being a prolific scorer is needed to reach 2,000 points, but to also be that unselfish with the ball to reach 900 assists, knowing you are a great scorer, shows more about Cooper's character and basketball IQ. And of course, to get that many assist and steals, the player would most likely be a guard, who are not usually known for grabbing a ton of boards. Especially when a player is Cooper's height, listed as 6-foot on Ohio's website, which might be generous.
Cooper has done it all for the Bobcats in his four years and it is a shame that because he plays for Ohio and not UNC, this will not get the national attention it deserves. The record is also a credit to a player who made the most of what college basketball offers by staying all four years and enhancing his game to this point. This is a prime example of the personal greatness that can be accomplished by playing all four years, and it is refreshing to witness in a time where teams are lucky to have players for more than two of the allotted four years.
Due to the era of college basketball we live in, and if the one-and-done rule stays in effect, Cooper's name should be the only one next to this record for some time. And when a name is added to the list, it could be another star player from a mid-major conference who flew under the NBA radar for years and, like Cooper, should be a drafted if teams will take a chance on an under-sized but talented small-school standout.
Being a No. 1 draft pick is nice. Breaking a school record is impressive and worth being proud of. But Cooper gets to stand alone on this mountain of a record with the feeling of accomplishment no one else in the game has ever been able to reach.
D.J. Cooper did this quietly in Athens, Ohio, and now deserves as much attention from across the country as he can get because he may not be a first-round draft pick, but he's got something no one else in college basketball does, and he's earned it.