For Olive Branch High School in Olive Branch, Mississippi the duo of 2019 point guard, Joseph Cooper, and 2019 forward, DJ Jeffries, has propelled their team to being one of the best teams in the state. In fact, the team is currently ranked as the sixth best team in Mississippi, regardless of class, according to MaxPreps. Whistle 2 Whistle was recently able to catch one of Olive Branch’s games, which was played against Adair County (KY) and the number one ranked point guard in the class of 2021, Zion Harmon.
While Jeffries and Harmon led each of their teams in scoring, Olive Branch’s Joseph Cooper played a very impressive game as well. Cooper contributed 24 points and 7 rebounds in their 91-76 win over Adair County, and was never rattled by the hype surrounding Harmon. He actually seemed to embrace it. Throughout the game, he played with high intensity, energy, and emotion.
It was noticeable that Cooper wanted to prove Harmon wasn’t the only elite point guard on the floor. “It was good being able to play with someone that good and being able to hang with them,” said Cooper on his match-up with one of the most popular high school basketball players in the country. Although, the buzz surrounding Harmon gave Cooper extra incentive to have a good performance, he says his battle with injuries in the past are what fuel him to play with a chip on his shoulder.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries in the past that kept me from playing,” Cooper stated, “So now I know it can be taken away from me any day. I’m just trying to go my hardest and play every game like it’s my last game.”
Despite his past with injuries, Olive Branch’s junior point guard has still been able to garner the interest of many mid and high-major Division 1 schools. Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee State, Winthrop, Southeastern Louisiana, and Murray State have all offered Cooper, while LSU, Maryland, and Colorado State have shown interest as well.
He recently took an unofficial visit to Murray State while traveling with his team to play at the Marshall County Hoopfest. When asked about his relationship with the coaching staff, Cooper said, “I talk to them almost everday. I went down there and visited last weekend.” The Racers have been able to make a strong impression on Cooper to this point as he claims them to be the team working the hardest to sign him.
Whether it be Murray State or one of the other teams recruiting Cooper, he says that being able to grow and learn as a point guard will play a factor in his position. “I want to play for a team that’s going to let me get in there and make mistakes, adjust, and play my game,” he said.
For those who haven’t seen him play, whatever team lands Olive Branch’s Joe Cooper will be getting a true point guard with the potential to be a serious scoring threat as well. He pushes the pace, looks for teammates in the open floor, and passes well, but can take the ball to the basket and draw contact or step outside the arc and knock down jumpers. He’ll need to become more consistent with his shot, but has proven the ability to score in high volume.