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The numbers add up for Ohio's D.J. Cooper

2013-03-27T18:00:00Z 2014-05-10T19:23:20Z The numbers add up for Ohio's D.J. CooperMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
March 27, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

D.J. Cooper definitely carved his place into NCAA Division I basketball history.

The Seton Academy grad and 2009 Times player of the year, and 2013 Mid-American Conference player of the year is the only player in NCAA Division I history to have at least 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds and 300 steals in a career. On March 5, he scored his 2,000th point, his 900th assist and 600th rebound came on Feb. 27, and his 300th steal was made Jan. 27.

Cooper, who led the Ohio to the Sweet 16 last year, had a quicker-than-expected end to his college career as the Bobcats fell to Denver in the National Invitational Tournament on Tuesday. He ends his four years with 2,075 points, 934 assists, 621 rebounds and 327 steals.

“It is quite an accomplishment, but remember you have to have good players around you,” Cooper said. “Winning the MVP I guess is a tribute to my hard work, but also my teammates work hard too.”

It is also a tribute to his determination. The 6-foot, 175-pound Cooper was bypassed by the big schools and was glad that then-coach John Groce, now at Illinois, gave him a chance.

For Cooper, his responsibilities on the court are one thing, but he has different responsibilities off the court. He and his girlfriend, Lucki Johnson, are parents of 2 ½-month-old Donel James Cooper III.

“I get to change diapers and do feedings at 1 in the morning,” Cooper said. “It is not what everyone looks forward to, but that is my son and it does give me time to be a daddy. That is what you do.

“We are so proud of him.”

He said being a dad, college student and athlete made him grow up in a hurry.

“I come home from road games, it is 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning and 'Little D.J.' is up and that is my time to play with my son, feed him, talk to him and yes, change him,” Cooper said. “Not glamorous, but that is my time with my son.

“When you are a dad and in school, you do not live the typical college student's life like hanging out, but it is not about me, it is about my family. I give all the credit to Lucki for being a great mom.”

Cooper said he will go to several camps and workouts in an attempt to play in the NBA.

On the court, Cooper faced the transition with a new coach in Jim Christian, but said it was smooth. Christian said Cooper's ability to see the whole floor has been a reason for his being the best true point guard in the MAC.

“His vision is outstanding, but a lot of guys have great vision. A lot of guys see the play,” Christian said. “With D.J., it’s not just seeing it but it’s his ability to get the ball to people, through windows, through traffic, at the right time and the right angle so they can score. He throws passes at angles that other people couldn’t imagine.”

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