2015-12-15 / Front Page

Cooper Neese Verbally Commits To Play Division I Basketball At Butler University In 2017

by Brent Ranard
for The Hoosier Topics


Coach Patrick Rady and Cooper Neese share a light-hearted moment after practice on Wednesday at Tucker Court. Neese is currently the second leading scorer in the state with a 28 point per game average. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Coach Patrick Rady and Cooper Neese share a light-hearted moment after practice on Wednesday at Tucker Court. Neese is currently the second leading scorer in the state with a 28 point per game average. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Cloverdale junior Cooper Neese made a decision Tuesday night that quickly spread state- and nation wide and will surely change his life. He made a verbal commitment to Butler University to play basketball for the Bulldogs. The 6-4, 180-pound shooting guard had received previous scholarship offers from Evansville, Indiana State, and Ball State but this is the one he had been waiting for.

“I have always been a big Butler fan and made my official visit there on Monday to watch the VMI (Virginia Military Institute) game. Coach (Chris) Holtmann (Butler’s head coach) told me to be ready because they were going to offer me a scholarship,” Neese said, “I was ready to commit on the spot but things got crazy and he did not get a chance to do it on Monday. The offer came on Tuesday evening and I made the commitment. I just loved going into the locker room after the game and everyone, including the players, treated me like family and it just felt like I belonged.”


Cloverdale junior Cooper Neese made his verbal commitment to Butler University on Tuesday evening this week. Neese is shown here putting the defensive pressure on Cooper Bybee from Edgewood last Friday night. (Photo by Brent Ranard) Cloverdale junior Cooper Neese made his verbal commitment to Butler University on Tuesday evening this week. Neese is shown here putting the defensive pressure on Cooper Bybee from Edgewood last Friday night. (Photo by Brent Ranard) “The coaching staff is really great. Coach Haltmann has been excellent to deal with and also assistant coach Michael Lewis (former Indiana University men’s basketball player),” Neese added.

The Bulldogs really burst into the national spotlight in 2010 when they received a #5 seed into the NCAA tourney. They made it to the Final Four that year in Indianapolis. Butler was the talk of the nation. Playing less than six miles south of campus, the Bulldogs had become America’s team. Butler finished runner-up after losing a thriller to the Duke Blue Devils 61-59.


Cooper Neese scored his 1,000th point last Saturday against Southmont. He is shown here accepting the game ball from his dad, Jerry Neese. (Staff Photo) Cooper Neese scored his 1,000th point last Saturday against Southmont. He is shown here accepting the game ball from his dad, Jerry Neese. (Staff Photo) In 2011, the Bulldogs took a number #8 seed into the NCAA tourney and made an improbable run to the Final Four once again. They took runner up honors, for the second year in a row, losing to Connecticut in the championship game 53-41.

Butler became the first team from the state of Indiana to make consecutive final fours. They also became the first team in NCAA history to beat number one and two seeds before the Final Four in consecutive years.

Neese is off to a great start this year, averaging 28.0 points for Cloverdale (3-2) after scoring 17.1 as a sophomore for a 22-6 team that won a sectional. That scoring average is good for second in the state at this time. He totaled 65 points in two games last weekend against Edgewood and Southmont, going over 1,000 in his career Saturday night, and was one of six statewide to earn Indiana Basketball Coaches Association player of the week honors. He also leads the Clovers in rebounding with 7.2 boards a game and dishes out 3.2 assists per game. He will be the second player from Cloverdale High School to play for the Bulldogs. The late Chad Tucker signed with Butler in the spring of 1983 and went on to become the all-time leading scorer in Butler history. Neese was not alive then but is well aware of the connection. “Chad and my dad (Jerry Neese) were best friends and played together in high school at Cloverdale. My grandpa (Wendell Neese) also played for Cloverdale,” he said. “My dad and I share a special bond with our love for the game of basketball and it is great to be able to be with him out on the court this year.”

Neese understands what a special opportunity a Division I scholarship offers. “I am very thankful for this opportunity. I want to thank God for giving me the physical ability and I know that I am truly blessed. I also want to thank my family and my coaches for believing in me and pushing me to always do my best,” he added, “This is every little kid’s dream to play Division I basketball in front of huge crowds.”

Cooper was able to show the entire nation his skills this past summer when he played for the Indy Hoosiers AAU traveling team. His teammates included Kris Wilkes of North Central (ranked 10th by Rivals), Paul Scruggs of Southport (ranked 30th), and Zach Gunn of Hamilton Southeastern.

“I was able to show that I can play with the very best players from Indiana and against some of the top players in the nation,” he said. “We traveled to New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Louisville. It was a great experience and helped me gain some confidence and skills.”

Asked about his goals, now that he has verbally committed, he was quick to think about the team. “I want to help Cloverdale win basketball games with my teammates. I want to win another sectional championship like last year and go on from there,” he added. “Individually, I want to put on 15 to 20 pounds of body weight while working hard in the weight room. I want to be able to contribute to the Butler team my freshman year.”

Neese plans on pursuing a degree in business management when he enrolls at Butler in the fall of 2017.

Cloverdale first-year head coach Patrick Rady has been with the program several years and has seen Neese progress from youth basketball to now. “You just have to cherish every moment when you are blessed with a player like Cooper. His first priority is to win basketball games. He is the most competitive player I have ever coached,” he said. “He has planted the seeds of greatness, with his countless hours of hard work, and now he is reaping the harvest.”

Amid all the strife and stress we see and hear about daily in this world we now live in, this is a story that truly warms your heart. Small town boy gets Division I scholarship to state school showing that hard work and dedication does pay off. Cooper Neese still has a lot of work left to do for the Cloverdale Clovers on the hardwood in the next year and a half. I would encourage the fans to get out and watch him work his magic with the basketball if you get the chance. Fans will also be able to watch him at the collegiate level in a Butler Bulldog uniform, competing on the national stage.

Butler not only gained its first recruit for the 2017 season Tuesday night, they also gained a new legion of fans from Putnam and Owen counties.

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