Jack Cooley is a 25 year old 206cm forward7center from Evanston, Illinois playing his fourth professional season and first with MHP RIESEN Ludwigsburg (Germany-BBL). Last season he played with the Utah Jazz (NBA), released in Oct.’15, later that month signed at Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA), released later that month, in Nov.’15 signed at Idaho Stampede (D-League): 6 games: 14.5ppg, 11.8rpg, 1.3apg, 1.8spg, 2FGP: 58.3%, FT: 63.0%, in Dec.’15 moved to Unicaja Malaga (Spain-Liga Endesa): 27 games: 5.5ppg, 3.7rpg, FGP: 57.0%, FT: 62.3%; Euroleague: 14 games: 6.3ppg,059, 4.3rpg, FGP: 60.0%, FT: 63.6%. He started his basketball career in 2009 with Notre Dame (NCAA) where he played until 2013 playing a total of 123 NCAA games and as a senior played 35 games averaging 13.1ppg, 10.1rpg, 1.2bpg, FGP: 58.1%, 3PT: 50.0%, FT: 70.3%. He started his professional career in 2013 with Trabzonspor Basketbol (Turkey-TBL): 29 games: 12.5ppg, 6.8rpg, FGP: 61.5%, 3PT-1(66.7%), FT: 68.8%. In the 2014-2015 season he played with the Utah Jazz (NBA): 16 games: 1.7ppg, 1.6rpg, in Mar.’15 agreed terms with Idaho Stampede (D-League): 20 games: 16.8ppg, Reb-1(12.5rpg), 1.1apg, 1.3bpg, FGP: 60.5%, 3PT: 21.1%, FT: 69.0%. He spoke to German Hoops recently about his basketball career.
Jack thanks for talking to German Hoops Your playing your first season in Germany and first with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg. You are having a great season stat wise in both BBL and Champions League. Did you feel any pressure coming in to fill the shoes of ex NBA player Jon Brockman?
I did not feel any pressure coming in to fill Brockman’s shoes. He is a great player, who’s game I respect greatly, but I have not felt pressure to fill take his place. I came to this team because it is a great opportunity for my career going forward.
Early in the easyCredit BBL season the team could have two more wins after narrow loses to BG Goettingen and the Fraport Skyliners. Recently you lost big to Bamberg and Ulm. Why do you feel is the team still so up and down on paper. One game the defense shines giving up 60 points to Bamberg, but then gives up 87 points to Bremerhaven?
We have had some close losses in the BBL, which has been frustrating, but it highlights how our team always fights out on the court. The defensive fluctuations are just typical of a season, different match ups can lead to different results.
The club could have been 4-0 in Champions League play early in the season had it not lost it´s first two games by a combined total of three points. In two games the club averaged 98 points on offense. Did the club get a better feel of this competition?
I think the team is adjusting nicely to the different style of European basketball. We do a great job of learning from every game we play and now see that we can be a great team not only in the BBL, but in all of Europe.
How much has the departure of Alex Ruoff hurt the team and how much has the pickup of Clifford Hammonds sparked the team in the last weeks?
Whenever you lose a player as good as Alex, it hurts, but I have no ill will against Alex, he did what he felt was best for his career and thats what matters in this business. Our team picking up Cliff has been huge. Whenever a team can add such a talented veteran point guard, it will always be a huge lift.
You have played with many great centers and also battled many in the Euroleague. How much potential does a guy like German Johannes Thiemann have? What do you like most about his game and is he a future Euroleague player?
This is a great question, because I personally, from seeing him in every game and practice, think Johannes has a chance to be one of the best centers in Europe and I am glad he is on my team. His skill set and basketball IQ are outstanding for his age and I believe he will have a very successful career ahead of him where ever he goes.
Your teammates with other center Jason Boone. The new York native has been around for 10 years and just doesn´t stop continuing to play. He doesn´t get a lot of minutes this season which is a shame, but is an important component in the locker room and practice area. How does his character in general help the team be it´s best at all times on and off the court?
Jason Boone is a fantastic leader during games, but even more so off the court. For me personally, having his experience and input during games has helped me make many improvements to my game. I also have to add that he is the strongest player I have ever gone against during my career. He is an invaluable asset to this team.
Let´s talk about your game. Your were shooting an amazing 94,0% from the field in the Champions League and in two games have shot 23/23 from the two point range. Is this the absolute best shooting that you have done back to back in one competition?
This is the best shooting of my career in back to back games. In college I set a record by making 18 straight 2 point field goals in a row, but I have never made 28 straight before in my career.
Early I the season in the BBL you were also shooting exceptionally well and the best ever in your career at 74%. Has your shot selection and shot selection IQ received a special lift this season or how do you explain your rapid surge in your shooting percentage this season?
I believe the surge in shooting percentage is caused by the people in my life giving me added faith in my abilities. I have the worlds best trainer at home, Jeff Pagliocca, who every summer helps me refine my game more and more. Without him especially, my career would be no where near what it is today.
You are also a very efficient player for the minutes you play which has been more than evident as you averagd 17,0ppg in 16 minutes in the Champions League and 13,7ppg in 18,7mpg in the BBL earlier in the season. What do you feel like you have to do to on the court with your game to become even more efficient than you already are?
I think to increase my efficiency, I have to limit turnovers and seek post up opportunities more aggressively. Doing so should cause my efficiency to rise even more.
Last season you played with Unicaja Malaga (Spain-Liga Endesa).Was one of your season highlights in Europe scoring 17 points in 19 minutes in a 71-67 win against eventual Euroleague finalist Fener Ulker?
Yes, the game against Fener I will remember for a very very long time, not really because of the stats, more so because the amazing Malaga fans who gave me a standing ovation as I left the court. I will remember that forever.
After playing your rookie season in Turkey, you reached the NBA in your second season playing 16 games for the Utah Jazz. What did you learn to appreciate most about the NBA?
I learned most from the NBA was to focus more on the details. To make sure I know exactly where to be during every second I’m on the court and to make the most out of my time in the game. The attention to detail in the NBA is always over looked, but I feel it had the biggest impact on me.
Centers in general haven´t had an easy time getting by French national player Rudy Gobert as German Tibor Pleiss experienced last season. How was that whole experience for you having this day to day relationship with Gobert on and off the court and do you feel that you profited from it?
The relationship between me a Rudy really went beyond basketball and he is still a good friend of mine. On the court what I learned from playing against Rudy was how to score against much taller and more athletic defenders, because if I can score over him, I can score over anyone.
The Utah Jazz had a good record with you aboard at 10-6. What was your most memorable game in your short time there that will always stick in your mind?
The most memorable game while I was there was the one against Denver at home, where I had a Sports Center block to at the end of the game on Gary Harris. That is another thing I will remember forever.
Last summer you played NBA Summer League with the Chicago Bulls. How realistic is the NBA dream for you to happen for a second time and does the hope that all it takes is for one GM to like you to get you back there?
The dream of me playing in the NBA again is always in the back of my mind and is the ultimate goal. What you said is very true, all it takes is one team liking you and giving you a chance and at this point in my career with everything I have learned, a chance is all I need.
You played a stronger 2013 NBA Summer League than in 2014, but it was in the 2014-2015 season where you reached the NBA. Was that a good example of just how unpredictable the NBA can be?
That is a great example of the unpredictability of the NBA. Arguably, my summer league was my rookie year, but the offers were not enticing enough to take me away from going to Turkey, but after a successful year abroad and another solid summer league, I received my chance.
As a rookie you played with Trabzonspor Basketbol (Turkey-TBL). What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Turkey where you knew that you were very far away from Evanston, Illinois?
My wakeup call was most likely literally my neighbors having roosters that would wake me up every morning. Nothing said I wasn’t in a Chicago suburb anymore more than that did.
You played at Notre Dame from 2009-2013 playing a total of 123 NCAA games. How important was Luke Harandgody for your early development there. Did he kind of take you under his wing in his senior year?
Playing with Luke was a huge part of my growth as a player that I will forever be thankful for. Getting destroyed by him every day in practice my freshman year taught me a lot of things about being humble and showed me a lot of offensive moves that is still use to this day.
How did head coach Mike Brey groom and prepare you best for s professional basketball career at Notre Dame?
Coach Brey did a phenomenal job preparing me for the NBA by the way our offense is free flowing and unselfish. Being unselfish and a team player is crucial to having a successful NBA career and no one creates more team players in college than Coach Brey.
Who was the best player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
Steven Adams is the best player I played against who is not in the NBA. I never lost to him though.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Garrick Sherman?
One on one battles between me and Garrick were always close. I would have to say if we played 10 times I would win 6 of them. He is a very skilled player and a great guy.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Pistol Pete, Michael Jordan, Shaq, Kobe and Lebron. I needed a bigger mountain.
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
I think Lebron is a fantastic player I have to say at this point top three. Hard to know if he passes Kobe while his career is still ongoing.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
I put Garnett at 2 right after Duncan
What was the last movie that you saw?
Big Hero 6.
Thanks Jack for the chat.