FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- Fairmont State men's basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun today announced the signing of 6-7 forward Brendan Cooper. Cooper, a first team National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) player for Lakeland (Ohio) Community College last season, will have two years of eligibility remaining for the Falcons.
“I can’t put into words how excited I am to have Brendan Cooper in our family,” said Calhoun. “We feel he is a program-changing player, a perfect fit for our campus, community, and basketball team.”
Cooper averaged 17.5 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals per game this season for the Lakers and head coach Terry Bowe last season. He recorded 17 double-doubles and was named the team's MVP at the end of the season.
“He played for a great junior college program and a great coach, Terry Bowe,” Calhoun said. “Coach Bowe does a great job getting guys ready for the next level both on and off the court. When guys come out of Coach Bowe’s program, they’re ready to play. We expect Brendan to come in and make a major impact right away.
“He can do it all, and his versatility is one of the reasons so many Division I and II schools were after him” Calhoun continued. “He’s an exceptional athlete, but he’s also extremely skilled. He can pass it, and for a 6-7 guy he can handle the ball extremely well. He has great fundamentals, and when you combine that with his elite athleticism and his work ethic, you put up the kinds of numbers that he has throughout his career.”
With Cooper leading the way, the Lakers put together the best year in program history. They finished the season 27-9 and won the NJCAA Division II Region 12, District 10 championship. Lakeland opened the season with 11 consecutive wins, finished the year ranked fourth in the country and advanced all the way to the national tournament before falling in the consolation game.
“Brendan is a winner,” said Calhoun. “Obviously his numbers are impressive and his accolades speak for themselves, but it’s the things he does that don’t show up in the box score that I like the most. He’s a tremendous leader and consistently makes winning plays. Whatever it takes to win, he gets it done.”
Cooper joins a roster that has been bolstered in recent weeks by several additions. He is the sixth member of Calhoun’s first recruiting class.
“This is a great addition to our program,” Calhoun added. “Brendan was one of the best junior college players in the country, and we already have one of the best returning players in the country in (senior guard) Isaac Thornton. Both of those guys are potential All-Americans, I truly believe that.”
Cooper, a native of Parma, Ohio, was the Northeast Ohio Conference Player of the Year and League MVP as a senior at Parma High.