Elgin grad Cooper hooks on with LSU

Elgin High graduate and Triton College basketball national champion Courtese Cooper signed with LSU during a visit to the Baton Rouge campus Thursday.

Earning the opportunity to join a Southeastern Conference team after one year at Triton is a dream come true for a player who did not have a Division-II offer coming out of high school.

The 6-foot-9, 205-pound forward with three years of eligibility remaining chose LSU over offers from Nebraska, Cincinnati, Illinois-Chicago and East Tennessee State, among others.

"I'm definitely excited," Cooper, 19, said during a three-day visit scheduled to end Saturday. "Excited to get to work, excited to see this develop and excited to see where I can go."

A two-time all-Upstate Eight River and all-area pick, Cooper was an athletic rebounder and shot blocker in high school. He averaged 10.5 rebounds as a junior. That same year he set the Elgin single-season record for blocked shots with 154.

Cooper can shoot from the perimeter. He sank 55 of 150 attempts from 3-point range as a senior (36.7 percent). That percentage rose to 40 percent at Triton in fewer attempts (14 of 35).

Cooper started 35 of 36 games as a freshman and gave the Trojans 10.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in 9.1 minutes per game.

Much of his development since high school has centered on the ability to post up. It was area of concentration under Triton Coach Steve Christiansen.

"In high school I didn't post up much," Cooper said. "The icing is shooting threes and driving, but me being 6-9, I need to eat the cake. And the cake was posting up. I feel I developed that at Triton.

"It's just wonderful how this process went. Everything my juco coach told me and everything my coach at Elgin and the assistant coach (Jeff Howard) told me about putting in the work paid off. I'm glad it did."

The Tigers began recruiting Cooper after he helped Triton win the NJCAA Division II Championship in Danville in late March.

"Courtese Cooper is someone with a lot of upside," LSU basketball coach Will Wade said in a university release. "He's a very efficient player both inside and out. We are also very excited about his rim protection and shot blocking."

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