THE YEAR OF THE RIFE
The Year of The Rife
ATLANTA, GA – If we value winning, and winning is the most important characteristic in a team or person, then why isn’t Sharife Cooper at the top of everybody’s rankings? Sharife Cooper and The McEachern Indians have made history in the state of Georgia and that’s big on the fact that Georgia is considered one of the best hoop states in America. Here is a recap of McEachern’s schedule, and I don’t think any other high school team had a tougher schedule. McEachern won 2 games against top 50 teams, 9 games against top 25 teams and locally they beat 9 of the top 10 teams in the state. Say what you want, but that is amazing. Not only did they beat these teams, he was the catalyst behind it all. Here are Sharife’s stats versus the top 25 teams in the country: 25.5 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals. This year Sharife had 4 games where he scored 40 points or more (40, 42, 43 and 45).
To emphasize the value of Sharife Cooper, McEachern has only lost 4 games since he has stepped on campus as a freshman. This year his team was less talented than last year’s team, yet this year his team had more accomplishments and that is mainly because of Sharife Cooper and his ability to affect the game in so many ways and make his teammates better. Sharife averaged 28.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6 rebounds and 4.1 steals per game this year at McEachern High School.
I’ve been watching basketball my entire life and there’s no way you can watch a Sharife Cooper game and not walk away saying this kid is different. His basketball IQ is off the charts. He works harder than most people I’ve been around. You can’t speed him up or slow him down, he does what he wants. Most ranking publications have Evan Mobley as the #1 player in the country but honestly, it’s hard to justify that because McEachern played Rancho Christian and Sharife was clearly the best player on the floor. Not only that, his team won. Some people argue that they play different positions. So does Michael Jordan and LeBron James but that doesn’t stop people debating about who is the GOAT. When the NBA advertises games, they advertise the best player versus each other, never thinking about the position they play and if James Harden out plays Steph Curry, James Harden will most likely be talked about being the better player. My point is this: basketball is a team sport and winning is on the agenda of most teams and organizations and Sharife wins. Winning is a characteristic. If you don’t believe me ask Tom Brady, the 6th round Draft pick out of Michigan. Winning can’t be measured like wingspan, height or shuttle speed. You’re either a winner or not, and I’m completely on record saying Sharife Cooper is a winner.
This past September, Hoop Hustlers was the first publication to rank Anthony Edwards #1 before his re-class to this year’s graduation class. Many publications eventually realized that Anthony Edwards was the number 1 player in the country. Today, we will be the first publication to rank Sharife as the #1 player in the country and this is well deserved. I can do this with ease knowing that my #1 player can beat your #1 player and based off McEachern’s Schedule, he probably did already. Here at Hoop Hustlers we don’t follow trends, we make them.
Ok, Ok, so your argument is he is a small guard – well if that’s the case and he played in the toughest Travel Circuit, The Nike EYBL, why couldn’t anybody stop him? EYBL has the best defenders, tallest guards, the most D1 prospects and McDonalds All-Americans. Again, why couldn’t anybody stop him? I’ll wait… The truth is not only could nobody stop him, but he won Offensive Player of the Year in the so called toughest circuit in the world. To bring it all into perspective, this kid averaged 28.2 points, 8.6 assists and 5.6 rebounds while playing in the PEACH JAM. Identical numbers to what he averages are in his junior year in High School. This means this is not a fluke, it’s what he averages and I shouldn’t have to break down averages.
In one year in High School, Sharife has accomplished more than most players have accomplished in 4 years. State Champion, National Player of the Year, Gatorade Player of the Year, AJC Player of the Year and Mr. Georgia Basketball. The only thing missing from this year’s resume is a PEACH JAM championship which he could get this year. Many things happened this year, but it was clearly THE YEAR OF THE RIFE.