|Posted by Brian Dickmann on November 7, 2016 at 7:25 PM|
Photo: Norbert von der Groeben / Chicago Tribune
This is part 3 of 5 previewing Green Bay’s 2016/2017 mens basketball roster. Today we look at the “wing” position
While there are several question marks surrounding the 2016/2017 Green Bay Phoenix roster, one spot where they’re seemingly set is the small forward position, or in this case, the “wing” position since head coach Linc Darner loves to use a three guard lineup. Phoenix fans can rest easy knowing they get another season of Charles Cooper holding down the position.
Cooper, an athletic 6’4” guard from Gary, Indiana, started all 36 games for Green Bay at the three spot last season averaging 13.6 points (2nd on the team), 5.5 rebounds (2nd), 1.5 assists (3rd), and 1.0 steals (3rd) per game as a junior in his first season of Division I basketball after transferring in from Kaskaskia College.
Now entering his senior year, Cooper was named to the Horizon League’s preseason all-conference first team last month and is Green Bay’s best returning player. With the loss of Jordan Fouse and Carrington Love, Cooper is the Phoenix lead returning player in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals.
He is an athletic slasher capable of scoring anywhere from the floor. He has several highlight reel dunks during his career already, including two in Green Bay’s Horizon League Championship game victory over Wright State last March.
The best way to describe Cooper is a scorer. He can score many ways, particularly around the basket, but he can also consistently hit jump shots in the 12-15 foot range. Only 10.5% of his field goal attempts last season were from beyond the arc where he made 8 of 38 (20%) of his three point attempts. He was Green Bay’s best guard shooting the ball inside of the arc, making exactly 50.0% of his 2-point shots.
Where Cooper thrives is his ability to attack the basket and draw contact. He made (and attempted) the most free throws on a Phoenix team that ranked near the top nationally last season in free throw attempts. He attempted 232 free throws by himself, tying Keifer Sykes single-season program record, making 69% from the charity stripe.
While Green Bay plays with three guards the majority of the time, Darner’s system provides flexibility and requires versatility, especially at the wing position.
Turner Botz, a 6’7” senior, is also listed on the official Phoenix roster as a guard and will likely be the first player off the bench to provide relief, though Cooper was third on the team last season averaging 26.7 minutes per game.
Botz role will likely be to give the Phoenix scoring off the bench, playing the 3-spot after Cooper as well as the ability to provide a stretch-4 option for Green Bay. Another wing/ small forward option against taller lineups is 6’7” forward Jamar Hurdle, the likely starter at power forward.
One of the most intruiging prospects to watch this season will be 6'5 forward Kameron Hankerson from Novi, Michigan. The true freshman averaged 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 3.3 steals per game as a senior at Novi before missing the final 12 games of the season due to a knee injury. Despite missing the final dozen games of the season, Hankerson was still named honorable mention all-state in Michigan.
Green Bay also has prefferred walk-on Kaharri Carter, a 6'5" sophomore who spent last season at Northeast Community College.
Cooper was phenomenal in his first season in a Phoenix uniform. As the leading Green Bay returner and preseason accolades, the pressure on him could increase as the team looks toward him for a leadership.
With Cooper anchoring the spot, it is a position of strength. But the Phoenix will also need all hands on deck at the position with contributions from Botz, Hurdle, and Hankerson.