Eric Cooper leaves Lutheran for St. Anthony


Eric Cooper, who guided La Verne Lutheran to back-to-back state basketball titles in 2010 and 2011 before falling short in the Southern California regional semifinals last season, has accepted the head coaching position at Long Beach St. Anthony.

Lutheran was 25-8 last season behind Arizona-bound forward Grant Jerrett, the state's only McDonald's All-American.

"It's an opportunity to come home to the area I grew up at, a chance to do something out here," Cooper said. "I still have a great team over there at Lutheran. It was a very tough decision, kind of just came about. I prayed about it and it worked out."

Cooper took over at Lutheran in 2007 and quickly built its program into a small-school power, compiling a 132-30 record in five seasons. Cooper's son, Eric Cooper Jr., will also make the move to St. Anthony. Cooper Jr. is an Arizona commit and one of the area's top rising senior guards.

St. Anthony was 17-10 last season and 50-30 over the last three years under former coach Chris Morrison.

"Everything fell in place at Lutheran," Cooper said. "I had good kids who were ready to work and great assistant coaches. That's what made it right."