Auburn freshman Sharife Cooper declares for 2021 NBA Draft, forgoing college eligibility | Zagsblog
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Friday / April 23.
  • Auburn freshman Sharife Cooper declares for 2021 NBA Draft, forgoing college eligibility

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    By JACOB POLACHECK

    Auburn freshman point guard Sharife Cooper will enter the 2021 NBA Draft, he announced Friday.

    ZAGSBLOG reported Thursday Cooper was expected to declare.

    The 6-foot-1 Newark, N.J. native will forgo his remaining college eligibility by hiring an agent, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported Friday.

    Ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 17 best available prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft, Cooper averaged 20.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game while shooting 39.1 percent from the field.

    “This past year has been nothing short of special – one of the best years of my life coming here to Auburn and being embraced by something that’s bigger than me,” Cooper said. “It’s hard to imagine what it was like when I was in high school when I wasn’t here yet, but I always couldn’t wait to get here. Being here and being embraced by Auburn and the community is something that I’ll live with forever. Through thick and thin, Auburn and my family have had my back, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. In times like this, I like to reminisce and just thank the people that have been there since the beginning.

    “First and foremost, I would like to thank God. Without him, none of this is possible. I’m just so thankful for people like my mother. She’s been there every step of the way and at every game. I can’t remember a game that she’s missed, whether it was watching it or being there. My dad – it’s hard to pinpoint one thing that I could thank him for. Just being there, being him, the person he is, I couldn’t be more thankful for having someone like that in my life. My brother and my sisters – Te’a, Mia, Omar – I couldn’t be more thankful for them. They’re my rock. To the Auburn staff – Coach Pearl, Coach Bowman, Coach Flanigan, Coach Steven Pearl, Coach Davis and the rest of the staff – they’ve helped me tremendously just getting better, getting stronger and becoming a better player and a better version of myself on the court and off the court. To know in the back of your head that Auburn has your back is a feeling that I can’t explain.

    “It was a tough decision, a hard decision, but with that being said, I would like to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft and hire an agent. I’m forever grateful to be a part of the Auburn Family. If I had to make the decision a million more times, I’d pick Auburn every time. War Eagle.”

    The former five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American was held out of Auburn’s first 12 games due to NCAA eligibility issues.

    He was cleared to play on Jan. 9, finishing with 26 points, nine assists and three steals in a win over in-state rival Alabama in his college debut.

    The NBA Draft Lottery is set for June 22 and the Draft is July 29.

    “We’re very excited for Sharife,” Bruce Pearl said. “While he may have signed his National Letter of Intent in November of 2019 and only played in 12 games, he was an Auburn Tiger way before that. Players that came before him like Isaac Okoro, Devan Cambridge and Babatunde Akingbola knew full well that Sharife wanted to follow in the footsteps of some of our great point guards.

    “His character and his hard work clearly shined through his lone season with us. After missing 72 days of practice, he started his first game against Alabama and put up 26 points and nine assists to help us take the would-be SEC champions down to the wire. He is a once in a generation point guard who has an uncanny ability to score and help others score. I’m proud of him, and he’ll always be an Auburn Tiger.”

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