Cooper Blocks Her Way to the Top
Jesheon Cooper, No. 42, reaches over other players to rebound the ball during the Thursday, Jan. 25 game at Hamilton Field House (Regan Rosson/The Vista)
Jesheon Cooper broke UCO’s school record for blocks in a career on Jan. 27 at Hamilton Field House against the Missouri Southern Lions with a block in the first half.
Cooper’s lone block against Missouri Southern pushed her career total to 154 blocks. Passing the record set by Lizzie Brenner at 153.
“It’s an honor to break the record,” said Cooper. “It justifies that I am able to do something on defense and help the team as best as I can with my presence.”
Cooper’s presence is a 6-foot-5 stature, measuring her as the tallest player on an active roster in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Conference. Cooper credits her height advantage as a big part of how she blocks so many shots.
“I learned how to be more consistent with [blocking shots]” said Cooper. “But it was mainly just something I grew into with my height; it’s a huge advantage.”
During the 2016-17 media day, UCO Head Coach Guy Hardaker said he was astonished by his new forwards size.
“She may be the tallest woman I have ever seen. She is listed as 6-foot-5, but I think she may be taller than that. She is definitely going to change things defensively for us. And I think she’ll be one of the top players in the league.”
Just as Coach Hardaker predicted, with just two seasons the senior forward now ranks first in blocks in the MIAA conference with 2.7 blocks per game. All while breaking defensive school records at UCO such as the all-time career record in blocks 154, the most blocks in one season 100, and the most blocks in a game with nine blocks against Emporia State.
“It’s pretty amazing that she did this in just two years,” Coach Hardaker said. “The previous player that had the shot block record was a four-year player.
Unlike Lizzie Brenner, the player Coach Hardaker was referencing, Cooper’s college career did not start at UCO with the Bronchos. She played her first two seasons at Shawnee Community College in Belleville, Illinois where she started 21 of 22 games her sophomore year.
There Cooper averaged 12.1 points per game and 8.6 rebounds. Also recording 108 blocks her sophomore year earning her the attention of the UCO coaching staff.
Assistant coach Heather Davis said that when she and the coaching staff first saw Cooper they knew she had a lot of ability to alter shots, but did not realize how much of an impact she was until they got her on campus and saw her on a daily basis.
In Cooper’s first season with the Bronchos, she broke the school record for blocks in one season with 100 blocks, shattering the old record of 55. This put her over half way to the career record mark and Cooper said once she found out, she wanted to break the record this year. Once she broke the record Saturday Cooper said, “It was an exciting feeling, it’s really cool to come in and break a school record with my last two years of basketball.”
With six regular season games remaining Cooper plans to extend her shot blocking record, setting her goal at 200 blocks. In order to achieve this goal Cooper will need to average around eight blocks in the remaining games.
“I haven’t been playing as well as I have at the beginning of the season, but I plan to keep working on defense and hopefully meet that goal within this last month of conference games,” Cooper said.