John Cooper, a veteran of over 100 wins as a Division I head coach, has joined Mike Boynton’s staff as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma State basketball team.
A Kansas City, Missouri native, Cooper spent the previous five seasons as the head coach at Miami (Ohio), where his defense-first approach saw the RedHawks ranked among the nation’s top 50 in steals in four of his five seasons.
In all, Cooper has been in collegiate coaching since 1993, including eight seasons as a head coach, and assistant coaching stops at South Carolina, Oregon and Auburn.
“I am very excited to have a man of John Cooper’s experience and character joining the Oklahoma State basketball family,” Boynton said. “I have known him for a long time, in fact he was a member of the coaching staff that recruited me years ago, and to this day he is a tremendous mentor for young men and an outstanding basketball coach. He will bring invaluable experience to our staff, and his recruiting connections all over the country will serve us very well.”
In his five seasons with the RedHawks, Cooper helped produce five All-Mid America Conference selections, including 2017 MAC Freshman of the Year, Michael Weathers. Every RedHawk senior earned their degree, and four players went on to a career in the professional ranks.
“When you start talking about people and what they stand for; their integrity, leadership and basketball knowledge, Mike Boynton has had all of those qualities dating back to his high school days at Bishop Loughlin,” Cooper said. “I’ve known Mike for years. We’ve stayed in touch throughout our careers, and I know what he’s about. I want to help he and Lamont Evans to do whatever we can do to represent Oklahoma State in the best way, and win basketball games, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Oklahoma State family.”
Prior to his stay at Miami, Cooper served as the head coach at Tennessee State for three seasons, where he built that program into a formidable force. His 2011-12 TSU squad posted a 20-13 record, the school's first winning mark since 1995-96 and the Tigers' first 20-win season in 32 years.
Perhaps TSU's most impressive victory came on Feb. 9, 2012 when it defeated seventh-ranked Murray State, 72-68. The loss was one of just two suffered that season by the 31-2 Racers.
Cooper's team nearly earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, losing at the hands of Murray State by a score of 54-52 in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament final. TSU also claimed its first win over an SEC opponent in 2011-12 when the Tigers defeated South Carolina, 64-63. His three-year overall record at TSU was 43-51, including a 27-25 mark in OVC games.
Cooper was a finalist for four different coaching awards in 2011-12, including the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award (national coach of the year), the John McLendon Award (top overall collegiate coach), The Hugh Durham Award (nation's top Mid-Major coach) and the Ben Jobe Award (nation's top minority coach in Division I).
Cooper joined Tennessee State following a five-year stint as associate head coach at Auburn University under Jeff Lebo. He played a vital role in the revitalization of the Tigers' basketball program with Auburn recording its first winning season since 2003. Auburn posted a 24-12 record in 2008-09, advancing to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
Prior to his time 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 '03-04, losing in the NIT semifinals.
From the 1995-96 season through the 2000-01 campaign, Cooper served as an assistant coach at South Carolina. During a three-year stretch from '95-96 to '97-98, the Gamecocks posted a 66-28 record. The 1996-97 squad won the Southeastern Conference title, finishing with an overall record of 24-8 and finishing No. 6 in the national rankings.
Cooper's first coaching job was as an assistant at Fayetteville State from 1993-95.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Cooper played collegiately at Wichita State. He led the Shockers in scoring and rebounding during his junior and senior seasons. Cooper was a two-time team captain and a Rhodes Scholar candidate in his senior year.
He played professional basketball with the Ft. Wayne Fury of the Continental Basketball Association in 1991-92 and with the Commodore Mustangs (Netherlands) in the European Professional Basketball League in 1992-93.
Cooper earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Wichita State in 1991. He is married to the former Melissa Mathis. They have a daughter, Kennedy, and a son, Kameron.
Cooper’s hiring is pending a standard background check.