April 20, 2021: After three seasons at Morehead State, PG Ta’lon Cooper announced that he will be transferring to Minnesota via his IG live Wednesday afternoon.
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Minnesota now has its veteran PG
— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) April 20, 2022
Two days since the commitment of Dawson Garcia, Ben Johnson and the Gophers staff has stayed busy in the transfer portal, adding Morehead State transfer Ta’lon Cooper. At 6-foot-4, Cooper was the starting PG on a 23-win Eagles team last season, averaging 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He chose Minnesota over top offers from USC, Vanderbilt and Missouri State, he will now likely fill the starting PG role for the Gophers. Having played three seasons for Morehead State, and was considered a sophomore last season, Cooper has two years of eligibility left with Minnesota (but I have no idea for sure during the COVID era).
Who is Ta’lon Cooper?:
Ta’lon Cooper grew up in Roebuck, South Carolina attending Dorman High School. With over 3,501 students, Dorman is one of the biggest high schools in the Spartansburg area. Cooper originally attended Word of God Academy before helping Dorman High School win state titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He found great success on the AAU circuit, averaging 26 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists for the 2019 season for Upward Stars (the same organization as NBA stars Zion Williamson and Ja Morant). He held a handful of local mid-major offers from Charleston Southern, Presbyterian, Radford, SC Upstate, Samford and SE Missouri State, before ultimately choosing Morehead State.
Cooper quickly caught on as a true freshman at Morehead State averaging 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in 30 games and seven starts. As a sophomore in 31 games and 11 starts, he averaged 8.3 points, 3.6 assists and 2.1 rebounds on an NCAA Tournament team. In his third season last year, he started all 34 games, averaging 9.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists (7th best in NCAA). After receiving interest from USC, Vanderbilt and Missouri State to name a few he has now committed to the Gophers.
- Scouting Report:
He was originally recruited as a combo guard out of high school, but Cooper has since developed into one of the best true point guards in college basketball. He is very unselfish, shooting only 7.6 field goals per game last season while averaging the seventh-most assists in the country (5.9) along with 2.2 turnovers per game. He is a career 41.9% shooter from the field, 36.8% from three and 68.1% from the free-throw line. He has the size and athleticism to be more than a capable starting PG in the Big Ten.
**High School highlights**
Ta’lon Cooper is the exact type of veteran PG that this Gophers roster needed. With Jamison Battle, Parker Fox and Dawson Garcia likely as the top three offensive options next season, they needed a point guard that is more than fine with taking the back seat and assuming more of a facilitator role. Cooper has played in big games, two OVC Championship games, and a first-round NCAA Tournament game against West Virginia. His veteran presence and leadership are exactly something that this team needed.
With likely two more seasons of eligibility remaining Cooper will be the perfect veteran guard from the Gophers’ young players at the position, (Carrington, Henley and Thiam) to learn from. There were obviously better PG prospects in the portal, but I think Cooper was a missing puzzle piece to this Gophers roster. In my eyes, Cooper’s addition makes this an NCAA Tournament roster, with two scholarships still remaining.
What is next?:
With the addition of Cooper, the Gophers currently have 11 scholarship players, 2 short of the 13 limit. Champlain Park native and Illinois State transfer SG Josiah Strong at the top of the list for the next names to watch. Between him, Indiana transfer Parker Stewart, Purdue transfer Isaiah Thompson, Elon transfer Hunter McIntosh and Davidson transfer Michael Jones, the Gophers have plenty of options to add shooting in the backcourt.
If the Gophers are able to add at least of those five names, they will have a very complete and deep roster. The job that Ben Johnson has done building this team in just over a year is truly impressive. With a top-40 incoming freshman class nationally and Cooper now joining Dawson Garia as incoming transfers, Johnson has built a roster that has a serious opportunity to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth in just over 12 months.
- G: Ta’lon Cooper/Abdoulaye Thiam
- G: Braeden Carrington/Jaden Henley
- F: Jamison Battle/Isaiah Ihnen/Joshua Ola-Joseph
- PF: Parker Fox/Treyton Thompson
- F/C: Dawson Garcia/Pharrel Payne
- *Walk-ons: Will Ramberg (F), Jackson Purcell (SG)
Follow @tonyliebert on Twitter for more updates all offseason.
— Tony Liebert (@TonyLiebert) April 6, 2022