August 18, 2011

One on one with Eric Cooper, Sr.

GOAZCATS.com's David Bagga recently sat down with La Verne Lutheran head coach and former Arizona Wildcat guard Eric Cooper Sr.. Cooper played for Legendary Hall of fame coach Lute Olson in the 1980's and now coaches future Wildcats Grant Jerrett and his son, Eric Cooper Jr. We caught up with Cooper about his playing days, coaching his son, and more.

On coaching his son Eric everyday - It feels good, the only issue I've had is that it's tough watching him go through injuries. Eric Jr. is progressing and getting over the injuries so as a coach and a father I'm glad he's finally getting healthy and will have the ability to show people what he can do. It makes me proud to see the person he's becoming, he's such a great kid and I hope he carries that with him to college.

On his son following in his footsteps and committing to Arizona - It feels nice, from a father standpoint he's getting a free education and he'll get his degree. From a basketball standpoint it's great, he's a better basketball player than I ever was (laughs), and he's been around the game for so long, he's like a sponge because he's soaking up everything and he still has some of my old practice clothes and gear from when I was there. He's dealt with a lot of adversity with injuries and that will prepare him for college because he's been through a lot of adversity.

On his son Eric having the opportunity to play for Coach Miller - Sean Miller is a lot like Coach Olson was because he's not just a basketball coach he prepares his players for life after basketball and gets them ready for the real world. He recruits good kids and makes sure they buy in and he believes that his basketball philosophy will work just like Coach Olson did. He's also a winner and instills that in his groups and I believe in coaches like that because he doesn't talk about basketball when he recruits he talks about maturing them for life and molding them into better young men and that's more important than anything.

On Coach Miller's Positive attitude and environment - It's great, if a player comes in with a negative attitude it's not going to fly with coach Miller and (coach) Olson was the same way he didn't put up with any of the negativity from anyone. When I was there playing for Coach Olson in the 1980's I was the one that had the negative energy at times because I didn't know how to deal with the structure and things like that. When I deal with my kids, they all know how important it is to stay positive and keep a winning attitude, so I understand both sides of it, believe me (laughs).

On what he's looking forward to the most from his son Eric Jr. - His leadership skills and his maturity, he's a young kid, mentally he's still a young kid, but a real good kid, a good student, I can't complain about that because he puts the time and the effort in that a parent would expect. I'm looking forward to seeing him grow because he is just going to be a junior in high school.

On what type of player his son will be at Arizona - He'll be a great shooter and he's a good decision maker with the ball. He'll mature in his thought process with the ball. Overall I think he'll be a great all around player and make a good impact.

On where he sees the program going under Sean Miller - I think he has a few more Final Fours ahead of him. He has some great recruits coming in this year so I think it will be interesting to see how he manages the high level guys coming in that already have the hype but the program is on its way up. As long as he can manage the different personalities he can be one of the top coaches in the west coast for a long time. I really feel like Miller will be one of the consistent winners in the west as long as he sticks to his principals and recruit good kids then I think he'll be in a good place.


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