The New York Knicks may have found a candidate to solve their point guard woes through the NBA Draft—depending on how the selections ahead of them play out.
A source told Ian Begley of SNY the Knicks are "gathering a lot of information" about Auburn's Sharife Cooper and are trying to figure out where the 6'2" guard could be picked when the draft tips off July 29.
The freshman averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 12 games for the Tigers last season. B/R's Jonathan Wasserman has him going to the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 25 pick in his latest mock draft.
Begley reported the Knicks are still looking at options on both the free agent and trade markets, but Cooper is earning high praise, with some evaluators telling SNY he has the talent to go in the top-five.
Not surprisingly, his coach at Auburn, Bruce Pearl, agrees with that assessment.
“Offensively, guys like this don’t come around every year," Pearl said. "They just don’t. Obviously, you’re taking a chance because of his size and you’re taking a chance because of the body of work. There’s not a ton to look at. He played 12 games in the SEC. But you’ve got to go back to EYBL and understand that most of the guys in the NBA were in the EYBL and they couldn’t stop him there. As a junior, he won a national championship in high school, didn’t lose a game. And he averaged 20 and (8) for me in 12 games. So every level, he’s checked those boxes."
Pearl specifically pointed to Coopers" unique ability" to get by his defender and finish at the rim through traffic.
Before landing at Auburn, Cooper was the No. 2 prospect in the state of Georgia in the class of 2020 as ranked by 247Sports. He was named the No. 24 recruit in the nation in 247's Composite rankings with comparisons to Ish Smith.
Even then evaluators were pegging Cooper as a first-round draft pick.
He may be more than that. He may be the missing piece to a New York roster that's ready to contend for a title much sooner than previously expected.