HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Cory Cooperwood has come full circle with the Wallace State men’s basketball program.
Cooperwood, the former two-time NJCAA Division I All-American at Wallace State, has returned to Hanceville, serving as an assistant coach for the Lions this season.
“It’s been great to be back. Wallace State is a great place to play basketball. There are no distractions. It gives you the opportunity to lock in and work on your craft every day,” Cooperwood said. “I try to give the players the best insight I can on what to expect in the future, whether in life or with basketball. From my experiences at Wallace State and Wright State to playing overseas, I can bundle it up and share it with our guys.”
Once head coach Allen Sharpe returned to Wallace State last summer for his second stint with the program, Cooperwood inquired about the opportunity to join his former coach on the sidelines.
“Everything I learned from coach Sharpe as a player prepared me for the next step at Wright State. I knew I wanted to work for him one day,” said Cooperwood, an Arkansas native.
Sharpe is thrilled to have Cooperwood mentoring the current team, which wraps up Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) North play on Saturday, hosting Gadsden State at 6 p.m. at Traditions Bank Arena at Tom Drake Coliseum. The Lions (8-9, 6-7 ACCC) have won five of their last six games.
“Cory has been a great addition our staff. He’s among the players who put this program on the map,” Sharpe said. “Cory’s had a great basketball career and he’s a super person. He knows how we do things and can relate to the players.”
As a star at Wallace State from 2006-2008, Cooperwood helped lay a championship foundation. In addition to being named a NJCAA All-American, Cooperwood was twice named the ACCC Player of the Year and was the first in school history to be named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Community College Athlete of the Year in 2007 (there have now been five overall, including the last two years).
Cooperwood was among the starters on the 2007-2008 team, which went 30-0 in the regular season, earning the program’s first No. 1 ranking.
Cooperwood transferred to Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, after his Wallace State career was complete and was a solid contributor for the Raiders for two seasons.
After graduating from Wright State, Cooperwood navigated through a professional basketball career, playing multiple seasons in Australia and Germany.
“It was a blessing to travel the world to play a sport I love. I was fortunate enough to experience new cultures and all that comes with it. Basketball is beautiful because it can bring different types of people together,” Cooperwood said.
After hanging up his sneakers, Cooperwood went home to Searcy, Ark., and spent one season as a graduate assistant at Harding University. He followed that with a job last season at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Before learning of Sharpe’s return to Wallace State, Cooperwood made a detour through Hanceville one day on his way home from Atlanta.
“I was shocked at all of the new buildings and even more that a Taco Bell replaced Hardee’s. We have a beautiful campus and one of the best junior college facilities in the nation,” Cooperwood said.
Cooperwood and the Lions will begin the postseason in a few weeks. While Cooperwood’s undefeated regular season team at Wallace State lost in the postseason, that success spearheaded championships.
Sharpe led the men’s program to its first conference title two seasons later, and the Lions won two more conference championships in 2012 and 2014 under coach John Meeks – marking a span of three ACCC championships in five seasons.
“Those accomplishments were great to see from afar. I take pride in knowing we helped lay that foundation. The program progressed each season,” Cooperwood said. “We’re here to do it again.
Coach Sharpe has an unmatched work ethic and passion for the game, and we work to have the Wallace State name to be among the best in the country.”