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John Cooper enters his second season at the helm of the Miami University men’s basketball program. With a season in Oxford under his belt, Cooper and his staff have worked diligently over the last year to add a diverse group of talented newcomers to a solid nucleus of returners. His tireless work ethic and an understated intensity look to pay dividends in 2013-14.
Cooper, who was announced as the program’s 23rd head coach on April 6, 2012, worked to establish an up-tempo system when he arrived to the Oxford campus. Despite a 9-22 record during a restructuring year, the RedHawks produced a number of highlights throughout the year. In Cooper’s first game at Millett Hall as the RedHawks’ head coach, Miami shattered a program record for steals, snagging 22 against Grambling State on Nov. 13, 2012. As part of that record-breaking team performance, guard Quinten Rollins tied a Miami single-game record with seven steals. Miami went on to post the third-most steals of any team in program history, amassing 258 for the season.
Although the RedHawks were the No. 11 seed in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, Miami hit the road for Bowling Green where a gritty effort by the Red and White resulted in a solid 63-52 win in the opening round of the tournament. The win punched the RedHawks’ ticket to Cleveland for the second round of the MAC Tournament after a one-year absence from making the trip to Quicken Loans Arena.
Under Cooper’s watch, forward Will Felder went on to earn All-MAC honors following his junior campaign, while sophomore center Jared Tadlock was an Honorable Mention Academic All-MAC selection.
During the 2012-13 season, Cooper picked up his 50th career win when the RedHawks produced a 63-60 triumph over Bowling Green on Jan. 16, 2013. On Feb. 2, 2013, Cooper helped guide Miami to the program’s 600th Mid-American Conference win as the Red and White notched a 70-61 road win at Central Michigan.
Cooper came to Miami after a three-year stint as the head coach at Tennessee State in which he built the program into a formidable force. His 2011-12 TSU squad posted a 20-13 record, the school's first winning mark since 1995-96 and the Tigers' first 20-win season in 32 years. The team had an 11-5 league record in Ohio Valley Conference play. Perhaps TSU's most impressive victory came on Feb. 9 when it defeated seventh-ranked Murray State, 72-68. The loss was only one of two in '11-12 that was suffered by the 31-2 Racers.
Cooper's team nearly earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, losing at the hands of Murray State by a score of 54-52 in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament final. On Feb. 19, 2012, Cooper led TSU to a 68-61 victory over Miami at Millett Hall. TSU also claimed its first win over an SEC opponent in 2011-12 when the Tigers defeated South Carolina, 64-63. His three-year overall record at TSU was 43-51, including a 27-25 mark in OVC games. Cooper is 52-73 in four years as a collegiate head coach.
Cooper was a finalist for four different coaching awards in 2011-12, including the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award (national coach of the year), the John McLendon Award (top overall collegiate coach), The Hugh Durham Award (nation's top Mid-Major coach) and the Ben Jobe Award (nation's top minority coach in Division I).
Cooper joined Tennessee State following a five-year stint as Associate Head Basketball Coach at Auburn University under Jeff Lebo. He played a vital role in the revitalization of the Tigers' basketball program with Auburn recording its first winning season since 2003. Auburn posted a 24-12 record in 2008-09, advancing to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
Prior to his time at Auburn, Cooper spent two seasons at Oregon where he helped the Ducks to a 41-23 mark. Oregon went 23-10 with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2002-03 and had an 18-13 record in '03-04, losing in the NIT semifinals.
From the 1995-96 season through the 2000-01 campaign, Cooper served as an assistant coach to Eddie Fogler at South Carolina. During a three-year stretch from '95-96 to '97-98, the Gamecocks posted a 66-28 record. The '96-97 squad won the Southeastern Conference title, finishing with an overall record of 24-8 and finishing No. 6 in the national rankings.
Cooper's first coaching job was as an assistant at Fayetteville State from 1993-95.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Cooper played collegiately at Wichita State under Fogler. He led the Shockers in scoring and rebounding during his junior and senior seasons. Cooper was a two-time team captain and a Rhodes Scholar candidate in his senior year.
Fogler praised Miami's selection.
"John Cooper is the perfect fit for Miami University," said Fogler. "A high achiever both on the court and in the classroom, Coop will compete for championships with student-athletes that graduate and who are prepared for life after basketball. John was very instrumental in my own personal successes as a player for me at Wichita State University and as my assistant coach at the University of South Carolina. What he accomplished as head coach at Tennessee State the past three years is remarkable. He's a great young coach and even a better person."
He played professional basketball with the Ft. Wayne Fury of the Continental Basketball Association in 1991-92 and with Holland's Commodore Mustangs in the European Professional Basketball League in 1992-93.
Cooper earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Wichita State in 1991.
He is married to the former Melissa Mathis. They have a daughter, Kennedy, and a son, Kameron.