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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cooper, Willis Are On Way Out at Memphis

Cooper, Willis are on way out at U of M

By Dan Wolken
June 8, 2007

Kareem Cooper and Tre'Von Willis are in the process of separating from the University of Memphis basketball program, sources close to the situation told The Commercial Appeal Thursday.

Cooper is doing academic work at the UofM to facilitate his transfer but has not been an active part of the basketball program, according to one source. Willis, who went home to Fresno, Calif., following the academic year, has asked for and will be granted a transfer.

Coach John Calipari did not return a message seeking comment.

The school won't comment on roster changes until the paperwork becomes official.

Neither departure is considered a surprise, since both would likely have had trouble fitting into Memphis' rotation next season.

Cooper, a 6-11 center, has dealt with off-court issues throughout his two seasons at Memphis. As a freshman, he was arrested for marijuana possession during a traffic stop in Millington and suspended from the team for four games. Cooper was suspended again last fall for a violation of team rules and missed the first seven games of the season.

After being reinstated, Cooper initially provided a boost off the bench, averaging 10 points in his first three games. But his production leveled off shortly thereafter, and he barely contributed during the final two months of the season. He finished the year averaging 3.9 points and 10.8 minutes per game.

Willis, a former top-100 recruit, was projected to be a major factor when he signed with Memphis. But Willis couldn't beat out fellow freshman Doneal Mack for minutes at shooting guard.

Willis appeared in just 17 games for Memphis, averaging 2.6 points. Memphis likely will not use the open scholarships this year.

Rather, Memphis will have just 11 scholarship players next year or 12 if walk-on Andre Allen is awarded a scholarship, with any leftovers being saved for the class of 2008.


Jmolleru said...

I really liked Cooper's story and hoped he would have performed better than he did. He just never seemed to really have it together. Too bad.

Coach said...

I agree with you. While Cooper's play was inconsistent at best, I did like his soft hands and he gave the team a different look when he was in there. I believe that Pierre Niles can do the identical thing as Cooper, but he needs more offensive abilities.

See my December 2006 article on Cooper from the Memphis Commercial Appeal