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302SportS Spotlight Trevor Cooney

Transitioning from college student to the work world is always a stressful yet exciting experience for anybody.  Searching the job list for potential career starters, going through the interview process, and waiting to hear back about employment is something that anybody from the ages of 21-25 can relate to.  For Delaware native and former Syracuse standout, Trevor Cooney, the transition from collegiate athlete to professional athlete has been truly unique.  In the past calendar year, Cooney became the only player in Syracuse men’s basketball history to play in two Final Fours, had stints with two different teams in two different European countries, and currently plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets’ D-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.  It’s been quite a busy year for the two-time DIAA boys’ basketball state champion from Sanford.

Last March, the Syracuse Mens’ Basketball team entered Selection Sunday “on the bubble” with a 19-13 record.  Trevor Cooney was 3rd on team in scoring, averaging 12.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, and 1.6 spg.  The Orange snuck into the tournament as a 10-seed in the Midwest Region, and started an unlikely run to the Final Four.

Along the way, Cooney and the Orange defeated Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Gonzaga, and ACC rival Virginia, before being defeated by another ACC rival North Carolina.  Cooney averaged 14 ppg in the tournament including 22 points in his final game.  “When you go to a program like Syracuse, you dream of making deep runs in March.  Making a Final Four is not easy so to be a part of two teams that got there means a lot to me,” said Cooney.  He continued, “doing it as a 10-seed and an underdog made it even better, it was an amazing journey going from bubble team on Selection Sunday, to being in Houston having a chance to play for a National Championship.  It was extremely special and looking back on it now, I realize just how special it was.”

 

(Photo Courtesy of Getty Images)

Trevor Cooney became the first player in program history to play in two Final Four’s during a career.  “Being in the history book at a program like Syracuse is a dream come true,” Cooney explained, “with all the great players that came before me, it’s pretty cool to have my name in there.”  When considering Syracuse’s storied history, which includes players like, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Coleman, Billy Owens, John Wallace, Sherman Wallace, and “Pearl” Washington, it is quite amazing that a kid from Delaware is alone on that list.

With his collegiate career finished, Cooney now had to look forward to training for professional basketball.  He shared, “After the tournament was over, I took about a week off and then got right back in the gym.  I signed with ASM Sports and my agent Steve Pina.”  

ASM Sports represents many NBA players such as Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks), NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors), and Cooney’s former Syracuse teammates’ Malachi Richardson (Sacramento Kings) and Rakeem Christmas (Indiana Pacers).

“When I finished up with my classes I flew out to Las Vegas where I trained at Impact, where a lot of guys were training for the NBA like me.  We were training for different workouts that teams would be putting us through to get ready for the NBA Draft.  It was great to be around those guys and compete at a high level every day,” Cooney shared.

Cooney then explained how the individual team workouts went, “I had a couple different workouts with NBA teams like the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, and a few other teams.  Those workouts were great, we worked out in groups of six players and matched up by position.  We would do various individual drills and there was always a sense of competition within those drills.  We would then move on to playing one on one, two on two, and three on three with the focus on being competitive.”  

Cooney then signed with Saski Baskonia (Spain) of the Euroleague an experience that Trevor says was great. “They had some players hurt and in the Olympics, so I was able to play a lot in the preseason.”

 

(photo courtesy of getty images)

Cooney played well enough to earn a two-month contract with the team.  “A lot of guys on the team were NBA guys so it was great to compete with them every day and continue to work on my game.”  

Baskonia’s roster includes former #1 overall pick, Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors), and former NBA players Chase Budinger (Houston Rockets) and Shane Larkin (Dallas Mavericks).  Cooney said about being around former NBA players, “it was great, I was able to see how professionals work every day, which was helpful.”

Cooney played in four games with Baskonia, playing 11 minutes per game and averaging 2 points per contest.

In November of 2016, after his contract expired with Baskonia, Cooney signed with Rasta Vechta of the German Basketball League.  There, Cooney averaged 3.4 points per game while playing 18 minutes per game over an eight-game span.  

“Rookie year overseas is always tough, you have to get used to how the game is played over there, have to adjust your lifestyle to living overseas,” Cooney said of his experience in Europe.  “You have to change everything, from what you eat, to the language, and being so far from home being six hours ahead of everyone.”

Cooney said of his decision to come back to the States, “after some time, I realized it wasn’t a great fit so I decided to come back home and sign with the Long Island Nets.”

On January 18th of this year, Cooney signed with the Long Island Nets of the NBA Developmental League, a process that Cooney said was a bit different than signing in Europe.  “Overseas you can see what teams are interested and whether it’s a good fit,” explained the former Sanford star.  “But joining the D-League half-way through the year, you get put on the waiver wire and any team can grab you.”  

 

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Cooney has played in 13 games for the Nets and is averaging 2.8 ppg in about 11 minutes per game.  The Syracuse product says the team is a great fit for him overall, “great coaches, great players, in terms of talent level, all leagues are different but the D-League has so much talent in it.”

When asked how different the game is overseas versus what he has experienced in the D-League, Cooney says, “you are able to work on your game more here than you are overseas.  There’s a lot of focus on skill development in the D-League.”  

One thing that Trevor Cooney has not forgotten, is where he came from.  Cooney is a prideful Delawarean and now that he is back playing in the States, he finds time to go back to his old stomping grounds.

Cooney is a graduate of the Sanford School and won two state championships under coach Stan Waterman, someone that Cooney says he admires.  “I’m always up at the Sanford gym working out, when I’m home, and talking to coach Waterman,” said Cooney.  “I would consider him family to me so I always stay in touch with him throughout the year.”

Trevor Cooney, Delaware born and raised, has accomplished and experienced quite a bit over the past year.  His transition from college to the professional world is relatable yet extremely unique.  Some would say he is living out a dream that many young Delaware athletes are striving for, so when asked if he had any advice for those athletes, Cooney kept things very simplistic.  “I know this is very cliché, but I always tell kids to keep working.  You have to fall in love with being in the gym, it doesn’t matter where you are from, if you put in the work and you want it bad enough, people will notice,” Cooney explained.  “I hope to start my own camp and also help at other camps over the summer.  I want to give back to the community and help the kids just like those that helped me.”

Trevor Cooney returns home, to Newark, Delaware, on Friday, March 24th as the Long Island Nets visit the Delaware 87ers at the Bob Carpenter Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 pm.

Pat Garyantes of 302SportS


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