Upon returning from two weeks leading his team through the land down under, Hartford head coach John Gallagher confirmed what was already well known around the league: point guard Evan Cooper is no longer a member of the Hawks.
“He’s taking a year off. I can’t say anything other than that,” said Gallagher during a recent interview.
However, Gallagher left the door open for Cooper’s return down the road, saying, “I hope he joins us in a year.”
Cooper wasn’t flashy or fancy, but the 6-foot point guard was crafty and rarely made mistakes with the ball in his hands, averaging 7.5 points, 1.7 assists and two rebounds in 60 games over his two seasons in Hartford, making 23 starts. Cooper during his two years in the program, Cooper was the only other primary ball handler in addition to starting point guard Yolonzo Moore III, and gave the Hawks the ability to move Moore off the ball.
A career 38.4 percent 3-point shooter, Cooper was one of the Hawks more accurate long-range gunners. However, with the emergence of Corban Wroe and Taylor Dyson, along with the white-hot shooting of Wes Cole, Cooper saw his offensive touches fluctuate during the second half of his sophomore season.
Beginning in late spring, rumors persisted around America East coaching circles that Cooper was no longer a member of the Hawks, which was apparently confirmed midsummer when his name disappeared from the team’s roster, and was officially confirmed by Gallagher after the Hawks’ foreign tour of Australia – a trip Cooper did not make.
Moore, a senior, has always been penciled in as the Hawks starting point guard, and according to Gallagher, he “was terrific,” running the show against Australian pros. However, Cooper’s departure leaves sophomore Justin Graham, who averaged just 0.8 points, 0.3 assists, one rebound and 8.4 minutes in 30 games last year, as the only other true point guard on the roster.