A Chi-Town native, the american point guard D.J. Cooper (6’0’’, 27 years old) talked with me about his life overseas, his goals and more. His former coach Éric Bartecheky said this about him: « When he is on the court, there is always something which happen. He has a true ability to get his teammates better ».
3PTSHOT: When did you started playing basketball?
D.J. Cooper: I’ve been playing since I was about 7 years old, I was super young when I started playing basketball in Chicago. There are a lot of good players out there.
3PTSHOT: You started your pro basketball career overseas in 2013. How is the european life experience so far?
D.J. Cooper: I started playing in Greece, which is a nice place. The basketball is at a high level. I played also in Russia for two years. It was nice as well. It looks cold but the team made it nice too. France is nice overall, in general. Among all the countries I played in, France is the most americanized.
3PTSHOT: You’ve been playing in France for a year and a half now. Monaco and Pau-Lacq-Orthez were teams located in the south, and now Gravelines-Dunkerque is situated at the opposite side of the country! Are there some differences comparing South and North of France?
D.J. Cooper: The North is a low different, but it’s more like Chicago. It’s not so bad because everything is one hour away. If you want to go somewhere, you can go. It’s not a problem to travel. I mean the city is small, the weather is cold but like I said, I’m from Chicago, so I’m used to a crazy weather or stuff like that. My main thing here is to win games and just do my job. I don’t worry about the other things like the lifestyle. Things like that are second, not first.
3PTSHOT: You won the MVP trophy last season into the french top league (Pro A). Usually, during each offseason, the MVP leaves France to sign a more lucrative contract somewhere else and play at a higher level. So, why did you decide to stay in France, even if you moved from Pau to Gravelines?
D.J. Cooper: I had many opportunities to leave. But just for my family, I wanted to be secure about a couple things, under the basketball you know, just for the future, before I want to leave France. France is very secured and it’s good to know what you can do in life, financially. After this two years in France, then I will probably make the jump to maybe a one life challenge.
3PTSHOT: What are your goals with Gravelines and for the future?
D.J. Cooper: Win as many games as possible, tried to take the team to the playoffs. That will make everybody happy and a successful career here for me. Individually, one of my main goal is obviously to play at the highest level, in Euroleague or NBA. I am just waiting right now, and just try the team improve and get better.
3PTSHOT: Where does your gift of exceptional passer with the ball come from? Even in very small spaces, you get to serve your teammates…
D.J. Cooper: I mean, that is just what I do, you know. I try to get my game, try to play for my guys. I think that is my main strength and skill since I’ve been playing basketball. I used to get a good connections with my big men. I try to find them on the court and make good plays.
3PTSHOT: What was your program last summer? Did you played during tournaments?
D.J. Cooper: I played a cup of summer games, pick up games, against players. But I spent most of my time to chill you know, tranquil, with my family.