Niagara Gazette

Niagara U.

August 13, 2010

Niagara cuts ties with Cooley

LEWISTON — The majority of Niagara fans will never get to see how good Austin Cooley could’ve been.

Cooley, a 6-foot-5 swingman entering his junior season, has been dismissed from Niagara University, men’s basketball coach Joe Mihalich confirmed Friday.

Citing privacy concerns, Mihalich would only say that Cooley failed to fulfill his responsibilities as a student-athlete.

Cooley dazzled teammates and practice observers in his two years with the Purple Eagles, using his combination of length, quickness, leaping ability and shooting range to, at times, look like the best player on the floor.

Playing behind upperclassmen Tyrone Lewis, Bilal Benn, Rob Garrison and Demetrius Williamson, Cooley averaged 8.2 minutes per game as a freshman and 15.8 as a sophomore.

When he did get in games, Cooley’s physical gifts rarely translated into productive play. He was an inefficient offensive player, a poor rebounder and a mistake-prone defender.

Still, former teammates saw tremendous potential in Cooley, and he was loosely projected to join the starting lineup as a junior.

Niagara now has an entirely new cast of wing players to complement standout senior point guard Anthony Nelson.

The most experienced, Kevon Moore, averaged 8.8 points in 22.3 minutes as a freshman at UNC-Wilmington, and spent the past year picking up the Purple Eagles’ system while working on his jump shot with assistant coach Luke Dobrich.

The other three -- Skylar Jones, Antoine Mason and Malcom Lemmons -- are all incoming freshmen.

Contact reporter Jonah Bronstein at 282-2311, ext. 2258.

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