Lew Wallace’s Charles Cooper one of region’s best-kept secrets
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent February 28, 2013 11:30PM
Lew Wallace's Charles Cooper at Lew Wallace Wednesday. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:44AM
GARY — One of the best basketball players most fans probably never saw play can put some serious points on the board, thanks to a pretty good jump shot and a little bit of forceful flash.
He plays for a team that’s good enough to win a sectional, but isn’t good enough to be ranked since early this season. So he won’t get the attention of, say, Andrean’s Nick Davidson or Munster’s Mike Schlotman.
On the other hand, when it comes to guys who fans would pay to see, he would be in the team picture with those two.
Come to think of it, because of that forceful flash (a fancy way of saying “he can straight-up dunk’’) he may be the most exciting player in the region.
“He’s very intelligent and he understands the game well,” Wallace coach Melvin Yancey said. “He understands all the gifts that he’s got. He’s the most exciting player I’ve seen all year, hands down.”
Introducing Wallace guard Charles Cooper. And fans who haven’t dseen him in action can change that starting Friday in Hammond.
“He’s been a great contributor,” Yancey said. “I think he’s the glue to the team. The other players follow him.”
Cooper has led the Hornets to a seemingly ordinary 11-7 record, but the Hornets a winners of five of their last seven going into their sectional opener against Griffith.
And like most high-scoring teams, Wallace can be a fun team to watch, and Cooper is the main attraction. He’s scoring 23 points and yanking down 10 rebounds per game, and is capable of playing all five positions on the floor at 6-foot-3.
“I try to bring energy to the team and I try to keep our minds right so we won’t let up during games,” Cooper said.
And even sometimes, that energy includes doing a little trash talking with opponents. And every now and then with opposing coaches. Cooper says he has even gone into playful verbal combat with the region king of trash talk, Roosevelt coach Renaldo Thomas, who was his former coach.
And then there are the Cooper dunks, most of which are almost worthy of Registering on richter scale.
But don’t get the wrong idea about Cooper’s priorities.
“I try to do a new one every now and then but it’s something I don’t work on,” he said. “I just want to win.”
Or in Wallace lingo, the accumulation of “body bags.”
“Basically we are trying to kill the scoreboard,” Cooper. “When we win, at the end of the game we say ‘zip ’em up. Body bag!’ ”
The Hornets have had more than a few zip ’em up moments, scoring 80 points or more seven times this season.
“Charles definitely sets the tone,” said Hornets assistant coach Brandan Scott. “He’s our catalyst offensively as well as on defense, and lately he’s been knocking down the 3.”
And colleges are slowly, but surely, getting the message, too. According to Yancey, Tennessee State, Western Michigan and Wichita State are interested in Cooper’s services after this, his senior year.
But right now the best high school basketball player most fans probably haven’t seen play has his focus on helping the Hornets kill a few more scoreboards before he’s through.
“He has court awareness, court intelligence, shooting ability, he can play every position,” Yancey said. “He can do everything on the court.”