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.