SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Sharife Cooper was born in Newark, N.J., and moved to the Atlanta area when he was about 6 years old.
But he still considers himself a Jersey Boy.
"I say Jersey," he tells people when he's asked where he's from.
Playing at the Hoophall Classic on Monday, Cooper put on a show, going for 27 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds and earning MVP honors as McEachern (GA), No. 2 in the USA Today poll, improved to 19-0 on the season by handling Rancho Christian (CA), 66-56.
"It was good, I'm just happy we won," he said. "We finished out the national schedule."
Cooper and McEachern also won the City of Palms event last month and the Bass Pro Shop TOC earlier this month.
Ranked the No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2020 by 247Sports.com, the 6-foot junior point guard says he's "definitely wide open" in his recruitment but has taken a couple of visits and has more coming up.
He attended the recent Georgia-Auburn game at Auburn, where his teammate Isaac Okoro has committed.
"They just kind of play free, they play how I play," Cooper said. "They've been there since the beginning."
Asked if Okoro was in his ear, he said, "Definitely."
There is a perception that Cooper is an Auburn lean, but he says he's open.
"I wouldn't say that, but everybody says that for a reason," he said. "I guess because my teammates go there."
Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, and UCLA are among those also in the mix
"I'm visiting Duke soon," he said. "I think I'm going to go to the Kentucky-Auburn game later in the season [Feb 23]."
Duke has yet to offer, but Cooper likes what they stand for.
"I like how they play," he said. "The energy and the atmosphere is crazy. Of course the Duke history and all the point guards that came through, so I just want to go see them.
Cooper said Kentucky is pushing to get him sooner than later.
"They kind of want to do it now, but I'm just trying to take my time," he said of a commitment.
Kentucky is also recruiting Paul VI point guard Jeremy Roach in the Class of 2020. Roach didn't play here as he recovers from ACL surgery.
"I really can't think that far," he said of Kentucky's reputation for sending guys to the NBA. "I'm just trying to finish the high school season. Anybody could commit to Kentucky. I don't want to go somewhere where there's three point guards, so I'm just really trying to take my time and see what they do."
He also hopes to visit UCLA, Arizona and Rutgers, his original home-state University.
He said UCLA interim head coach Murry Bartow was recruiting him.
"UCLA, I should be trying to take a visit there," Cooper said. "They text me all the time."
Arizona is also attractive.
"I've been watching them all my life," he said. "Allonzo Trier, I remember him. A couple other guys, too."
Rutgers assistant Brandin Knight "is a family friend of mine," he said.
And remember, he considers himself a Jersey Boy.