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Cooper (’13) Commits; Finds Fairfield Favorable



‘Getting it’ early and being blessed athletically certainly has its advantages.

Sudbury, Ontario’s Sam Cooper (6’2”, F, Lockerby, 2013) has mad the most of those advantages and has now verbally committed to play NCAA basketball for the Fairfield Stags of the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference), located in Connecticut.

After speaking with numerous Canadian Universities, Cooper had also strongly considered attending Buffalo, Canisius and Bowling Green.  But after an arduous decision process, the Fairfield, Connecticut School proved to be the best choice for her.

“I was really relieved after making my decision and committing to Fairfield, the decision was really starting to stress me out! But overall I feel great about my decision and I think Fairfield is the right place for me,” said Cooper. “When I went down I had a great time on the visit, I saw the school and the team and got to bond with them, which was fun. The campus is beautiful, the facilities are nice, there’s strong academics and I felt comfortable on the campus.”

Cooper has good ball handling skills for someone her size and runs the floor well.  She can penetrate from her station beyond the arc, and upon doing so, utilizes good decision-making on whether to pull up or drive all the way to the hole, where she is not afraid to finish with contact.  Outside the 3-point line she can connect with a high level of accuracy, forcing opponents to respect her shot which opens up the aforementioned opportunities.  As a Small Forward her size, it is advantageous that she has a good post game, which she does.  This adds the additional layer of complexity for defenders that now also have to try to stop her Sweep and Go or Sweep and Shoot moves, when she decides and post up looking for an entry pass like she often does.

“I think he plans to use me as a 3/4, where I can go on the perimeter and shoot the outside shot or take it to the hoop and also play in the high-post in miss-matches”, said Cooper of the way she believes Stags’ Coach Joe Frager will incorporate her into their system. “I am really hoping to make a big impact right away! I’m going to go down there and follow leadership from the other girls and work as hard as I can. Then hopefully everything else will fall into place.”

Things are very much looking like they will continue fall into place for the hard working Lockerby Composite School Senior, who has made the most of her opportunities leading her Vikings in High School play, and far beyond.  Cooper has quite a bit of international experience under her belt this year alone, including playing on the U18 Canadian Junior Women’s team that finished Fourth in Puerto Rico at FIBA Americas in August and the FIBA U18 3×3 team that this September, played in Spain.  She has also been participating in CP (Center for Performance) development and played with this year’s Team Ontario, as she has done each Spring/Summer since 2010.  Her Team Ontario experiences have been good ones right from the start, where in her first Canadian Nationals appearance she earned herself First Team All-Star honors.  The were also good experences because it was there that she connected with and played under the guidance of Head Coach Jodi Gram for the past three travelling team seasons.   Gram who has had a hand in Cooper’s moulding, has seen quite an evolution to her game.

“When Sam first started with Team Ontario, she already had some great tools to work with. As evidenced by her superior performance in the classroom, her IQ is extremely high, and that translates onto the court. Sam is also a very tough player that loves to compete and thrives on facing new challenges”, said Gram.  “To Sam’s credit, over the last few years, she has really committed to working on her strength and conditioning and her individual game. As a player with great length and rebounding ability, she has improved her athleticism and perimeter skills, and will now pose a great matchup difficulty for other teams on both sides of the ball. She can shoot the outside shot and is excellent at reading screens to free herself up, but can also post up and defend inside effectively.”

Gram firmly believes that Cooper’s training and development and work ethic, has come to a climax a just the right time, allowing her to show herself with confidence this past summer yielding very positive results.  And because of that, she was very proud of Cooper’s big decision.

“I am so happy for Sam to have made a decision that she is comfortable with and feels will help her continue to develop on and off the court over the next four years. She took the decision very seriously, and truly did her homework in considering a variety of high level CIS and NCAA institutions. She has set lofty goals for herself academically, as well as in terms of remaining involved with Canada Basketball programming, so for her to find a school that can support both of those goals is undoubtedly a source of great excitement for Sam moving forward.”

Cooper has medical field aspirations.  At Fairfield she will be a Biology Major, with the hopes of one day becoming an Optometrist or a Pharmacist.  And as she looks to secure one last berth to OFSAA (Ontario High School Provincial Championships) with the Lockerby Vikings, she is appreciative of the contributions of Coach Gram and the many others that she felt impacted her path.

“First and foremost I would like to thank my family, my parents have been helping me through this process,” she says.  “I would also like to thank Canada Basketball, Ontario Basketball (especially Jodi for taking me under her wing), my personal trainer Aaron Sidenberg whom I wouldn’t be where I am today without and one of my personal coaches Angie MacDonald, also a very influential person in my career so far.”

When little Samantha Cooper was 14 years old, she was featured in a story by the Sudbury Star.  A portion of that piece spoke about a self initiated training session that included about 100 pushups after missing several wind affected shots in her driveway.  And even at that age, understanding the bigger picture, she was quoted as saying:

“I just really love basketball and I hope to go far in it and this is the way to do it,” she said. “I always have to keep my hopes high, and when I practice like that it just encourages me to do more.”

And do more she has.

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