Cooper Granger has played competitive basketball for only three years, but the fast learner is already considered good enough for Vic Metro duty.
Granger will represent the Big V at the Southern Cross Challenge in January, a tournament focused on developing the best junior players across Australia.
The 12-year-old has two things going his way: a 186 centimetre body and an insatiable appetite for improvement.
The young centre is constantly nit-picking his own game and sponging information off his coaches in order to get better.
A product of the Westgate Imperials, Granger has worked with a number of coaches, including Kat Herbert, Ryan Herbert, Sean Seeliger and Jules Griffiths, who have offered constructive criticism which he takes on the chin and uses to his advantage.
Granger is all about self-improvement, maximising his talents and getting to as high a level as possible.
“I work hard at training and practise a lot at home,” he told Star Weekly. “If I miss a shot, I don’t feel bad. I use it to see where I can improve my game. I find my weak spots and work on them.”
Granger was over the moon when he found out that he had been selected for Vic Metro.
The year 7 student from Footscray City College will get the chance to see how his game stacks up against some of the better players in his age group.
He admits his game has developed quicker than even he expected.
“I definitely wouldn’t have thought that in three years I would be representing Victoria,” Granger said. “I wasn’t expecting it.
“When the email came through, I was so happy that I’d get to represent Victoria.”
The Yarraville resident has no intention of stopping there. He has a long-term ambition to play college basketball in the US.
He will always call Westgate Imperials his home association, but his family had to make the tough call for him to join Hawthorn Magic, a higher-ranked association that can offer a better standard of competition.
The Whitten Oval-based Imperials are a newly formed association making their way in Basketball Victoria ranks, while Magic is more established.
If Granger can make the Magic’s representative team, he will get a rare chance to play under Adonis Jordan, a former NBA player with the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks and an NBL player at South-East Melbourne Magic, Townsville Crocodiles and Victoria Giants.
It’s a far cry from Granger’s introduction to basketball at Westgate as a nine-year-old.
“I started playing domestically on the weekends then my coach told me to come down and watch the rep team a few nights and I did,” he said.
“Luckily, a few kids dropped out of the rep team and I joined it and I’ve apparently gone really well. I was part of [Westgate’s] first rep team.”
Granger sees his strengths in rebounding, passing and vision.
An unselfish player, he likes to bring his teammates into the game but can also find his own shot.
“I like to share the ball around, get everyone involved,” he said.
“I’d rather have everyone happy than just have myself happy, so I’d rather get 20 assists than 20 points.”