Drew Cooper will serve as the 23rd Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College as announced by Director of Athletic Rob Mallory on Friday morning. Cooper will be introduced to the community at a press conference at 2 pm on Monday afternoon.
“Drew is someone we identified early in the process as a potentially tremendous fit to lead our men’s basketball program,” said Director of Athletics Mallory. “He is a Kentucky native and has been coaching in the Commonwealth for the last 11 years. Coach Cooper has an extensive background in Division II as both a player and a coach. Plus, he is a winner.”
Cooper is an experienced hand within the region as he just completed a successful five year run as the Head Coach at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky. The Saints have gone 94-46 in Cooper’s tenure with a 66-20 mark in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC), including two straight championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. Cooper was named by his peers as the 2016-17 and 2017-18 PAC Coach of the Year. Over the past two seasons the Saints posted a 45-13 record.
“It truly is an honor to be selected to lead this program. My gratitude and appreciation to Bart Darrell and Rob Mallory for affording me this opportunity is off the charts,” commented Cooper. “Coming into a program with a history as accomplished as Kentucky Wesleyan, one of missions will be to get the Panther community as excited about the future as they are proud of the past. Given the championships and pride surrounding this program, that is a big challenge but it is a challenge that has me as excited as I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to infiltrate myself in the Panthers community.”
Prior to his stint at Thomas More, Cooper spent six seasons at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. where he was the assistant men’s basketball coach from 2007 to 2013. During his six seasons as lead assistant at Bellarmine, he helped the Knights to a record of 152-41. Four out of his final five seasons at Bellarmine entailed an appearance in the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen, including a Final Four appearance in 2012, and Bellarmine’s first National Championship in school history in 2011.
“Drew was instrumental in the rise of Bellarmine’s program and led Thomas More to their most successful seasons in program history,” continued Director Mallory. “Most importantly, I am confident he will build and maintain a culture within our program that we can all be proud of. I am excited to welcome Drew to the Kentucky Wesleyan family” concluded Mallory.
While at Bellarmine, Cooper coached under Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Scott Davenport. There, Cooper was an integral part of the recruiting process of eight members of the All-Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Team, including seven first team members. Three of these eight were at one point during their career named GLVC Player of the Year and subsequently received NCAA Division II All-American accolades.
Cooper started his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Bellarmine followed by a season as a Graduate Assistant at Northern Kentucky University in the 2002-03 season. He then headed to the northeast as an assistant coach at Babson College (MA). In 2006 he was named the first head coach in school history at Wheelock College (MA).
As a player, Cooper was a standout at NCAA Division II Assumption College (MA). Cooper played for four years at Assumption under legendary coach Serge DeBari. DeBari is a member of the Assumption College, New England Basketball, and Sons of Italy Hall of Fames. While at Assumption, Cooper scored 2,001 points and was a two-time NABC Honorable Mention All-American. While Cooper was a junior at Assumption, they won the 1998 Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Championship and advanced in the NCAA Division II tournament to become Northeast Regional semifinalists. This highlighted a remarkable turnaround within the program as Assumption went a combined 1-52 during the two seasons prior to Cooper’s (and DeBari’s) arrival at Assumption. A three-time First Team All-Northeast-10 conference selection, Cooper was inducted into the Assumption Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 23, 2010. Cooper went on to play professionally after his college graduation in the International Basketball Association in Ireland and Germany.