Rodney Cooper's game evolves with Crimson Tide

Cooper is Tide's current leading rebounder

Anniston StarFebruary 21, 2014 

Mississippi Aalbama Basketball

VASHA HUNT/AL.comAlabama guard Rodney Cooper is averaging eight points and five rebounds per game for the Crimson Tide this season.

VASHA HUNT — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When Alabama forward Rodney Cooper arrived at Alabama, he defined success by the number of points he scored.

Rated as a three-star prospect by the major recruiting services, Cooper starred for Russell County. averaging 31.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Like most high school players, he wanted to fill up the scoreboard at the collegiate level.

"Coop has been a guy since Day 1 for us that had opportunities to play, to develop, to grow and I think he's shown a lot of growth this year," Crimson Tide coach Anthony Grant said.

"Walking in the door, Coop was a guy that envisioned himself as a scorer and kind of in his mind based whether or not he played well on whether or not the ball went in the hole for him."

Now a 6-foot-6, 215-pound junior, Cooper's game has evolved and he's become a do-it-all type player for the Tide, which plays Missouri Saturday night.

"I think he's matured to the point where he does different things for us," Grant said. "He's our leading rebounder right now. If you look at his assist-to-turnover ratio, he's getting other guys involved.

"He's diversified his game which is good to see. On a team that's looking for guys to be more consistent from a scoring standpoint, he's a guy that has the ability to provide that.

"But in basketball, there's a lot of different ways you can affect winning. We're trying to get him and the rest of our guys to embrace that and I think he's done a good job of that."

On the season, Cooper is averaging eight points per game and a team-high five rebounds per contest. He's started 17 of the Tide's 26 games after starting 34 of 35 a year ago.

"My basketball IQ has been my biggest improvement throughout my career," Cooper said. "I'm just trying to grow and be an all-around player."

Senior guard Trevor Releford has noticed Cooper's growth and said it has contributed to the Tide's success.

"He's improved a lot since he arrived at school here," Releford said. "He came in with a scorer's mentality, but he helps us with way more stuff on the floor than just scoring. It has helped us out a lot in some of the games we've won this year. Him making the extra pass, getting a rebound and even stepping up and making big shots after missing a couple."

Still, there are areas Cooper feels he can improve.

"I want to be more aggressive on the court," he said. "I also want to be a more vocal leader instead of always trying to lead by example."

On the year, Cooper has had offensive explosions where he's lead the team in scoring, games with double-doubles and a few contests where he failed to score in double figures, but grabbed 10 rebounds. But which type of game does he prefer?

"The game that gets us the 'W,'" he said.

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