Cooley Commits To Notre Dame

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By Roy and Harv Schmidt

Rumors had been spreading that 6'9 junior Jack Cooley from Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, IL was going to commit soon, and sure enough, those rumors came to fruition as Cooley gave University of Notre Dame coach Mike Brey a verbal commitment Monday evening. Cooley chose Notre Dame over Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa according to his Rising Stars AAU coach Mike Weinstein. Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Illinois were all schools that had offered Cooley a scholarship.

Cooley and his father wanted to emphasize that there were two factors in the choice of Notre Dame which outweighted all other factors, and this was confirmed by Weinstein. The number one factor was Cooley and his family's admiration for Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and assistant coach Gene Cross.

Brey's personality, sense of humor, and obvious ability to develop similar players like current Notre Dame star Luke Harangody was noted by all in Cooley's camp. The second big factor was that Brey and Cross were among the first to start recruiting Cooley hard, and did not miss the boat on giving him a timely scholarship offer. Another factor was that Cooley and his father thought that Cooley's game best matched Brey's system. When one considers that Cooley is 6'9 and 230 pounds, with a soft touch within 15 feet to go with strong hands and excellent passing skills, it is easy to see how Notre Dame could sell Cooley on being the next Luke Harangody.

Cooley started to draw national attention this past summer with his solid play for the Rising Stars 16-Under team coached by Brian Davis, which was one of the best 16-under AAU teams in the nation. He was terrific at the NIKE Peach Jam in North Augusta, SC, and was even better at the 17-Under National AAU's in Orlando. It was hard for Cooley to get his points on a team that featured 6'3 junior Marcus Jordan and 6'2 junior Chris Cooley from Whitney Young High School in Chicago as well as 6'6 sophomore Jereme Richmond from Waukegan High School in Waukegan, IL. However, Cooley went out and got the tough rebounds, maximized his scoring opportunities in the post, and passed the ball splendidly, as well as played tough interior defense.

Cooley's stock continued to rise once the regular season started, as double-double performances became the norm on a sub-.500 team. Notre Dame got involved early, and the rest was history. Gene Cross has been an excellent addition to an already outstanding Notre Dame coaching staff, and it was his knowledge and experience with recruiting Chicago that was huge in allowing Mike Brey to secure the verbal commitment from Cooley.

Cooley will continue to perform this spring and summer for the Rising Stars, which could be among the premier AAU programs in the nation. Glenbrook South will be much improved next season as their team is dominated by underclassmen, and we look for Cooley to prove why he is considered among the top post prospects out of Illinois in the class of 2009, and one of the top post prospects nationally as well.

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It's a bit disingenuous to suggest that Cooley chose Notre Dame "over Illinois" and that he had an Illinois scholarship offer. He had a conditional offer from the Illini: essentially, we'll offer you if Griffey doesn't commit soon. Griffey did commit, and there went Cooley's chance to be an Illini, which he most likely would've been had an offer come.

After Griffey's commit, Illinois doesn't currently have another scholarship to give to Cooley or anyone else. There's six '07 scholarship players (McCamey, Legion, Cole, Davis, Tisdale, plus Semrau since he redshirted), one '08 (Simpson), four '09 (Griff, D.J., Paul, Bertrand), and two '10 (Richmond, Head). That's 13.

Roy & Harv Resond:

Your points are well-taken. It is always somewhat in the eye of the beholder as to what schools finish as runners--up when it comes to recruiting. However, we can tell you that the Illini coaching staff (both Bruce Weber and Jerrance Howard) came in to watch Cooley just prior to the commitment from Griffey and that they were recruiting him hard. That is why we worded it the way we did in terms of Illinois being one of the schools that Cooley chose Notre Dame over. Plus we got it straight from the mouth of Cooley's AAU coach.

They were definitely recruiting him, you're right about that. Were Griffey not quick to commit- and a fine bit of recruiting there by Weber, using the same ploy Matta used, pitting Evan Turner against Alex Tyus a couple years ago- Cooley likely would have received, and probably accepted, an Illinois offer.

Then again, I've just recently heard the Illinois coaches were telling Cooley that there would be an opening soon- someone possibly leaving the team, don't know who- and there may still be a scholarship for him. But with four post players likely to be in front of him when he arrives, plus being only the No. 2 post player in the '09 class after Griffey if he'd decided on Illinois, he probably wouldn't see the floor until at least his third year.

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This page contains a single entry by Roy & Harv Schmidt published on February 5, 2008 10:49 AM.

Sky Is The Limit For Stan Simpson At Illinois was the previous entry in this blog.

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