Walker Cooper was born in the middle of a run in which his father, Bruce, coached the Lawrence High School girls basketball team to four Class A state championships.

He was named after his grandfather, but his middle name “Pete” derived from the hope that after two state titles, Lawrence would pull off a three-peat.

Walker, who is a senior at Cony High School, is all things basketball.

His mother, Maureen, starred at the University of Southern Maine, setting records that still stand, and later played in Europe. His older sister, Cassie, was a standout player at Cony and Dartmouth College.

“I’m very aware,” Walker said of his family’s hoops history. “That’s a very big influence. It just pushes me to be the best I can.”

Cooper and his teammates open their season tonight in Brunswick. Despite his 6-foot-6 height, a lot of Cooper’s game the past two seasons has started on the perimeter since he’s an excellent outside shooter with 3-point range.

“His first three years he was mostly a spot-up shooter,” Cony coach Tim Bonsant said. “This past summer he changed his game. He can post up, he can slash to the rim and he can shoot it like he always has.”

Cooper’s speed and versatility make him one of the tougher matchups in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class A division, but even with just three other returning varsity players this season, he realizes he can’t do it alone. To that end, he’s developed into a leader, a fact just as important to the team, Bonsant said, as his ability to score and rebound.

The Cony coach pointed out Cooper often takes his erase board and shows some of the newcomers what they need to do on a particular play. That wasn’t necessarily the case last season.

“He’s transformed himself into a leader on and off the court,” Bonsant said. “I think he realizes we need more than him to win.”

Cooper loves the team’s chemistry and sees his role as “getting everybody on the same page and helping everybody get better.”

It won’t be easy in a conference Bonsant calls the best he has seen since he has been at Cony. Cooper, who averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds per game last year, will draw extra attention this season. Bonsant said he’s up to the task.

“Toward the end of the game Walker finds another button to push,” he said.

Cooper plans to attend prep school — he’s interested in Bridgton Academy — and hopes to put some muscle on his 180-pound frame as well as improve himself academically. He would like to play small forward or off-guard in college. And he would like to continue the family legacy.

“I don’t know many kids with the love and passion for basketball that Walker has,” Bonsant said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

 

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