Wayne Cooper – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
University of New Orleans/NBA
Born on November 16, 1956, in Milan, Ga., Artis “Wayne” Cooper came to the Crescent City to play for the University of New Orleans in 1974 and became one of the top players in Privateers history. In his four-year career (1974-78), the 6-10 forward/center scored 1,209 points (ranks 14th all-time at the school as of 2020) to go with 920 rebounds in 98 games. The Privateers overall record during Cooper’s career was 80-31 (.721).
During his senior season (1977-78), Cooper was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year after averaging 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game and leading the Privateers to a 21-6 record and the league championship. He was also a first-team All-Sun Belt selection as a junior when UNO went 18-10.
Cooper still ranks among the best all-time at UNO in multiple categories (as of 2020), including No. 3 in rebounds (920), No. 7 in rebounds per game (9.4) and No. 10 in blocked shots (73, blocks were only an official stat for his senior season). His 343 rebounds during his senior year rank as the sixth-most in a season at UNO while his 12.7 rebounds per game rank No. 3 all-time at the school. His 281 boards as a junior rank No. 10 while his 73 blocked shots the same year rank No. 6.
His career-best rebounding game was a 22-rebound effort against Dayton on February 18, 1978. He also blocked sevens hots on January 7, 1978 against Charlotte.
Following his UNO career, Cooper was drafted in the second round (40th overall) of the NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. He went on to a 14-year career in the NBA with stops at Golden State, Utah, Dallas, Portland and Denver. He played in 984 career games and scored 7,777 points to go with 6,095 rebounds and 1,535 blocks. During the 1985-86 season, he recorded his top statistical season, averaging 13.1 points per game. He retired with the No. 9 ranking in NBA career blocked shots and as of 2020, still ranks No. 35. In both 1984-85 and 1985-86, he ranked fourth in the NBA in blocks.