With the Ohio Bobcats making their first Sweet 16 appearance in school history, a spotlight has been cast on the program and the university that isn’t typical of mid-major basketball teams. It’s not entirely unfamiliar territory either for Ohio, who upset Georgetown in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, but it has been taken to new heights with the added pressure of a regional semifinal.
However, apparently the success of an NCAA Tournament doesn’t just garner added media attention, it also comes with the attention of high-major coaches. In their upset of Georgetown two years ago, Ohio guard D.J. Cooper scored 23 points and his parents alleged that former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl and Baylor head coach Scott Drew attempted to coerce Cooper into transferring after his tournament performance in 2010.
In an article by Pete Thamel of the New York Times, Cooper’s mother alleged that Drew offered her son more television exposure if he were to put in for a transfer to Baylor. In a separate article by Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, Cooper’s father claims that Bruce Pearl and Tennessee came after there son the hardest in hopes that he would transfer to Knoxville to play for the Vols.
Cooper, who was adamant about his loyalty to Ohio (the school that recruited him the hardest coming out of high school), elected to stay at Ohio where he has been a two-time First-Team All-MAC point guard. This season, he has led the Bobcats to their deepest postseason run in school history by averaging 14.9 points and 5.7 assists per game.
Both Bruce Pearl and Scott Drew have issued staunch denials of the allegations of D.J. Cooper and his family. When Pearl was at Tennessee, the Vols ended Ohio’s 2010 tournament run, and Pearl issued a statement on his Sirius/XM Radio show that can be heard here.