LANCASTER - He's had no complaints about his years in the Pulaski County system, but a chance to return home to Garrard County was something Brandon Cooper could not pass up.
That’s why the 2000 Garrard graduate quickly accepted an offer to become the new boys basketball coach following the resignation of Brad Sizemore, who took a similar post at North Laurel in his hometown of London.
“He’s a Garrard County product and we are looking for more stability in our program,” said Kalem Grasham, Garrard’s assistant principal. “We wanted someone that would develop players and wanted to be at Garrard County for a long time.
“We’re happy with the job Brad did, but we know he wanted to go back home. We want somebody that wants to be here and build a long-term program and Brandon wants to do that.”
Cooper, 30, who played at Union College, worked for years with the boys basketball program at Southwestern High School and one year with the girls program.
“Pulaski County has been good to me. They did what you wanted them to do and helped you all they could,” Cooper said. “But I think everybody if they get the opportunity to go back to their hometown and coach, that’s what they want to do.
“I want to try and make a big difference. Garrard County has never really been on the map for basketball. Their has not been a lot of work put into the youth program. When I played high school basketball, we didn’t even know what the AAU¿program was. At Southwestern, I have kids play 60 to 70 AAU games a year. My son’s team has been together since second grade and just won the sixth-grade state championship.
“There are also kids not playing basketball at Garrard County that should be on the court. I’ve got to make it my job to get those kids playing basketball.”
Cooper says he’s seen a dramatic improvement in some Garrard players the past two years and has had good reports on some other players from summer league coaches.
“This is not a three-month fix, but that does not mean there is not talent at Garrard County now from what I have seen and heard,” the new coach said. “It’s just that there has never been a winning mentality embedded with players at Garrard County like there has been at say Lincoln County. There’s no reason Garrard County can’t be successful. It’s the only high school in the county and you have the whole town to pick from. We can win.”
Cooper has no problem with multi-sports players, either.
“I think you certainly can play football or another sport and still play basketball and keep your basketball skills where they need to be,” Cooper said. “I am a true believer, especially in small towns, that you play what you are good at. If a kid can play more than one sport, let him do it. That’s how you get your best players playing and that’s what I want.”
He anticipates keeping some members of Sizemore’s staff, but also hopes to add another coach or two of his choosing.
“I do have guys I am working with trying to get them on board so we can make this the best basketball program possible,” Sizemore said.