President Melvin N. Johnson has named John A. Cooper as head coach for Tigers Men’s basketball program at Tennessee State University .
Cooper comes to Tennessee State from Auburn University where he served as Associate Head Men’s Basketball coach with Jeff Lebo. Cooper has over fifteen years of basketball coaching experience having coached at Oregon , South Carolina and Fayetteville State . This will be Cooper’s first post as a head coach.
Cooper is a native of Kansas City , Missouri and played collegiately at Wichita State , under Eddie Folger, where he led the Shockers in scoring and rebounding during both his junior and senior seasons. He was a team captain his final two seasons and a Rhodes Scholar candidate in his senior year.
“We had an outstanding group of candidates from which to choose. We were looking for the right fit, a combination of integrity, energy, respectability, community involvement and commitment to player and team development,” said Tennessee State University President Melvin N. Johnson. “John Cooper was very impressive in the final interview process. He was ultra-prepared, knew where TSU basketball was, understood where we wanted to go and had a plan to get us there,” added Johnson.
TSU Athletic Director, Teresa Phillips affirms Cooper’s ability. “John Cooper’s vision for the TSU program is outstanding. His background shows that he has learned from great coaches and that he will be a great mentor and steward of young student-athletes,” said Phillips.
Cooper spent five years at Auburn (2004-2009) and played a vital role in the revitalization of the Auburn basketball program, as the Tigers recorded their first winning season in four years (2003). This season, Auburn posted a 24-12 record, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NIT Tournament.
Prior to his arrival 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 2003-04, losing in the NIT semifinals.
He coached a pair of All-Americans in PAC-10 Player of the Year Luke Ridnour of the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics and Luke Jackson, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He spent six years as an assistant at South Carolina under his former college coach Eddie Folger, from 1995-2001 helping lead the Gamecocks to the SEC Championship with a 24-8 record in 1996-97.
ior to South Carolina , Cooper spent two seasons as an assistant to Rick Duckett at Division II Fayetteville (NC) State in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, where the Broncos went 18-10 in 1993-94 and 15-10 in 1994-95.
Cooper is married to the former Melissa Mathis of Greenwood , S.C. They have two children, a daughter Kennedy and a son Kameron.