Auburn basketball: Looking forward to Sharife Cooper

Auburn basketball fans probably know more about Sharife Cooper than any other recruit who has committed to Auburn during the Bruce Pearl era. Those fans need to make sure they aren’t getting too used to Cooper’s commitment or taking it for granted, because the five star point guard out of Powder Springs, Georgia offers a ridiculous upside in Pearl’s system.

Cooper’s point guard abilities, ability to score from anywhere on the court and the control he plays with at a fast pace makes him a great fit for Pearl’s system and some of the players he will be (and could be) playing with at Auburn.

Point guard abilities:

Cooper’s ability to run an offense and lead a team on the court make him a shoe in as a day one starter at Auburn. His handle is top notch, and Cooper’s awareness and ability to make a wide array of passes with either hand should allow him to facilitate any type of half court offense that Auburn needs.

Cooper’s weakness, like many high school point guards who handle the ball every play, is that his turnover numbers are a little high. This seemed to be something he improved on as a senior, but it is still something he’ll have to work on at Auburn.

Many of Cooper’s turnovers come on making tough passes and gambling with no-look passes and passes to beat double-teams. Opponents won’t be able to double-team Cooper in the same way at Auburn, and Cooper playing with college and pro level players that he is already familiar with should give him a chance to take another step forward in that category.

A walking bucket:

Cooper can score from anywhere, and his high school stats and accolades are proof of that. He averaged 28.6 points, 8.6 assists and 4.1 steals per game as senior, highlighted by his 52-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist game.

At McEachern, Cooper scored more than 2,000 career points, and was named City of Palms MVP, Bass Pro MVP, 2019 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year, 2019 Mr. Georgia Basketball, 2019 USA Today All USA Player of the Year, a McDonald’s All-American and was the first non-senior to win MaxPrep’s National Player of the Year … and the list could go on.

Playing with AOT during the Nike EYBL sessions, Cooper (as a junior) was 2018 Offensive Player of the Year and EYBL All First-Team as a junior and senior, among other things.

Cooper’s ability to score also lets him slide off the ball and into a catch-and-shoot/isolation role like Jared Harper sometimes played at Auburn when Davion Mitchell or J’Von McCormick ran the point. Or if Auburn uses a player like Tyrell Jones (or potentially Jalen Green) as a secondary ball handler like it did with Samir Doughty last season.

Control:

Cooper has the speed and control to pick up right where McCormick and Harper left off, and it’s obvious the second you watch him go coast-to-coast.

Cooper will be able to run Auburn’s transition offense as fast as anyone, and his ability to make any pass and find open teammates will give him a chance to max out his role. Especially when you consider he will be playing along side guys like Jones, Jaylin Williams and some of the targets Auburn is still after.

Defense is an area that has been highlighted for improvement by scouts and fans, but Cooper’s steals-per-game averages and his basketball IQ make it seem like improving shouldn’t be a huge problem, and Auburn has played good defense with small point guards for the last few seasons.

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