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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Collin Cooper (14) of Fayetteville drives past Zane West of Van Buren on Friday at Bulldog Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Collin Cooper is quiet by nature. He's admittedly not a rah-rah player, choosing instead to let his play on the basketball court do the talking.

The numbers he is putting up this season say plenty.

AT A GLANCE

COLLIN COOPER

SCHOOL Fayetteville

CLASS Junior

HEIGHT 6-2

POSITION Point Guard

NOTABLE Has seen his scoring average rise from 10 points per game as a sophomore to 19.2 this season. … Has scored 30 or more points three times this season including a high of 32 twice. … Has scored in double figures in all 26 games this season. … Has hit 63 3-pointers and is averaging 2.5 made 3-pointers per game. … Has been offered by the University of Central Arkansas.

The 6-foot-2 junior point guard has taken his game to a different level this season, increasing his scoring average from about 10 points per game as a sophomore to 19.2 this season. He's also improved in other areas, such as his 3-point shooting, where he's knocking down 2.5 treys per game and has made 63 3-pointers.

"Players make a lot of progress from their sophomore to their junior year, and I think back to Payton (Willis) and I shouldn't do that because it's a pretty tough comparison, but they are similar players in the respect that everything statistically improved from their sophomore to their junior year," Fayetteville coach Kyle Adams said.

Willis is a sophomore guard at Vanderbilt who starred at Fayetteville.

While scoring is a major area of Cooper's value to the Bulldogs, Adams said he has seen other aspects of Cooper's game improve as well, specifically on the defensive end.

Cooper has thrived in the biggest games of the season for the Bulldogs (18-8), who claimed the 7A-West Conference championship and a No. 1 seed in this week's Class 7A State Tournament in North Little Rock. The Bulldogs also earned a first-round bye and will open play at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against the winner of the Springdale High-Bryant matchup.

Against Springdale Har-Ber two weeks ago, Cooper went off for 30 points, the third time this season he has topped the 30-point mark, and led the Bulldogs to a road win that played a significant role in Fayetteville earning the No. 1 seed.

"That was one of the goals we had at the beginning of the season," Cooper said. "That was very important for us. It helps in the tournament to get that bye and not play until Thursday."

Coming into the season, the Bulldogs were tabbed to finish fifth in the conference by league coaches. Adams said although he could not argue with that prediction, he also admitted the Bulldogs used that as motivation.

"I'm not justifying that pick," Adams said. "We really had some kids step up this year and come a long way in their leadership roles, scoring roles and really just fitting into the team scheme of things."

With 8 losses on the year, Fayetteville does not carry a gaudy record into the state tournament. Cooper said the Bulldogs' brutal nonconference schedule helped prepare the team for the conference and postseason schedule.

"Those games showed us what we needed to work on," Cooper said. "But we also did a lot of team bonding and it helped with team chemistry."

Fayetteville went 11-3 in conference play, sweeping Har-Ber in the process, but getting swept by Springdale High. Heading into the regular season finale, Fayetteville had to beat Van Buren to claim the No. 1 seed and the Bulldogs rallied late to pull out a 71-64 win. Earlier in the week, Fayetteville lost to Springdale to snap a seven-game winning streak.

Cooper has been offered a scholarship by the University of Central Arkansas but said he's not focusing on the recruiting process at this time.

"Playing in college has been my main goal since I was in the ninth grade," Cooper said. "I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to that every day. I'll probably narrow it down toward the end of my senior year and probably sign on the last signing day," he said.

Before games, he said he listens to Kodak Black to get hyped. Away from the court, he said he likes to spend time with his younger brother, Chandler.

Adams said he's excited for his team to take the floor on Thursday at North Little Rock.

"This group is pretty laid back, but on the floor they are very focused," Adams said. "They have a toughness to them that I really like."

Sports on 02/28/2018

Class 7A at North Little Rock

Girls

Today

Game 1 C4 Little Rock Central vs. W5 Springdale Har-Ber, 1 p.m.

Game 2 W3 Springdale High vs. C6 Fort Smith Southside, 4 p.m.

Game 3 W4 Van Buren vs. C5 Bryant, 7 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 C3 Fort Smith Northside vs. W6 Rogers High, 1 p.m.

Game 5 W1 Fayetteville vs. Game 1 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 6 C2 North Little Rock vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 C1 Conway vs. Game 3 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 8 W2 Bentonville High vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, noon

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, date and time TBA

Boys

Today

Game 1 C4 Bryant vs. W5 Springdale High, 2:30 p.m.

Game 2 W3 Bentonville vs. C6 Cabot, 5:30 p.m.

Game 3 W4 Bentonville West vs. C5 Fort Smith Southside, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 C3 Conway vs. W6 Rogers Heritage, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5 W1 Fayetteville vs. Game 1 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 6 C2 FS Northside vs. Game 2 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 C1 North Little Rock vs. Game 3 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 8 W2 Springdale Har-Ber vs. Game 4 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, date and time TBA

CLASS 6A at West Memphis

Girls

Today

Game 1 W4 Sheridan vs. E5 Little Rock Hall, 1 p.m.

Game 2 E3 Jonesboro vs. W6 Siloam Springs, 4 p.m.

Game 3 E4 Mountain Home vs. W5 Benton, 7 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 W3 Lake Hamilton vs. E6 Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Game 5 E1 Marion vs. Game 1 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 6 W2 Russellville vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 W1 Greenwood vs. Game 3 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 8 E2 West Memphis vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, noon

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, date and time TBA

Boys

Today

Game 1 W4 El Dorado vs. E5 Jacksonville, 2:30 p.m.

Game 2 E3 Pine Bluff vs. W6 Texarkana, 5:30 p.m.

Game 3 E4 Little Rock Hall vs. W5 Greenwood, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 W3 Sheridan vs. E6 Marion, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5 E1 Jonesboro vs. Game 1 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 6 W2 Benton vs. Game 2 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 W1 Lake Hamilton vs. Game 3 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 8 E2 West Memphis vs. Game 4 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, date and time TBA

CLASS 5A at Maumelle

Girls

Tuesday

Game 1 S1 Hot Springs vs. W4 Harrison, 1 p.m.

Game 2 W1 Farmington vs. S4 De Queen, 4 p.m.

Game 3 E1 Nettleton vs. C4 Sylvan Hills, 7 p.m.

Today

Game 4 C1 Little Rock Christian vs. E4 Greene County Tech, 1 p.m.

Game 5 C2 Beebe vs. E3 Batesville, 4 p.m.

Game 6 E2 Paragould vs. C3 Little Rock Parkview, 7 p.m.

Thursday

Game 7 W2 Vilonia vs. Hot Springs Lakeside, 1 p.m.

Game 8 S2 Watson Chapel vs. W3 Clarksville, 4 p.m.

Game 9 Game 1 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.

Friday

Game 10 Game 2 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1 p.m.

Game 11 Game 3 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 12 Game 4 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Game 13 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, noon

Game 14 Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 6 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 15 Game 13 winner vs. Game 14 winner, date and time TBA

Boys

Tuesday

Game 1 S1 Hot Springs vs. W4 Greenbrier, 2:30 p.m.

Class 4A At Brookland

Girls

Today

Game 1 N3 Ozark vs. S3 Warren, 1 p.m.

Game 2 E3 Lonoke vs. N4 Pottsville, 4 p.m.

Game 3 S2 Star City vs. E4 Esstem, 7 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 N2 Gravette vs. S4 Ashdown, 1 p.m.

Game 5 E1 Central Arkansas Christian vs. Game 1 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 6 S1 Monticello vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 N1 Berryville vs. Game 3 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 8: E2 Riverview vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, noon

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, Date, Time TBA

Boys

Today

Game 1 N3 Pea Ridge vs. S3 Dumas, 2:30 p.m.

Game 2 E3 Jonesboro Westside vs. N4 Booneville, 5:30 p.m.

Game 3 S2 Warren vs. E4 Riverview, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 N2 Berryville vs. S4 Ashdown, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5 E1 Batesville Southside vs. Game 1 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 6 S1 Bauxite vs. Game 2 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 N2 Pottsville vs. Game 3 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 8 E2 Baptist Prep vs. Game 4 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, Date, Time TBA

Class 3A At Drew Central (Monticello)

Girls

Class 2A at White County Central (Judsonia)

Girls

Today

Game 1 WC3 Bigelow vs. N4 Brinkley, 1 p.m.

Game 2 S3 Poyen vs. WC4 Hackett, 4 p.m.

Game 3 N2 Carlisle vs. S4 Murfreesboro, 7 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 WC 2 Johnson County Westside vs. N3 Marmaduke, 1 p.m.

Game 5 S1 Caddo Hills vs. Game 1 winner, 4 p.m.

Game 6 N1 Earle vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 WC1 Quitman vs. Game 3 winner 4 p.m.

Game 8 S2 Spring Hill vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, noon.

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, Date, Time TBA

Boys

Today

Game 1 WC 3 England vs. N4 East Poinsett County, 2:30 p.m.

Game 2 S3 Harmony Grove vs. WC4 Jacksonville Lighthouse, 5:30 p.m.

Game 3 N2 Charleston vs. S4 Mountain Pine, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday

Game 4 WC 2 Quitman vs. N3 Marked Tree, 2:30 p.m.

Game 5 S1 Parkers Chapel vs. Game 1 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 6 N1 Earle vs. Game 2 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Friday

Game 7 WC 1 White County Central vs. Game 3 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Game 8 S2 Bearden vs. Game 4 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Game 9 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 1:30 p.m.

Game 10 Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Championship

at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, Hot Springs

Game 11 Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, Date, Time TBA

Print Headline: Hooper Cooper

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