Fanfare-Colleges: UNC's Cooper signs with Arizona

Jul. 29, 2013 @ 12:06 AM

The Arizona Cardinals have reached a contract agreement with first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper.

The four-year deal is worth about $14.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NFL collective bargaining agreement for Cooper as the seventh pick overall.

The 6-foot-2, 311-pound guard from North Carolina missed the first two days of training camp, when the team worked out in shorts. He was en route to Arizona and also missed Sunday’s practice, the team’s first in pads. He was expected to practice Monday.

Cooper had worked out at left guard with the starting unit through the offseason.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians got word of the contract agreement when a note was passed to him during his daily briefing with reporters on Sunday.

“Just got word that Jonathan Cooper is done and is on his way,” Arians said. “He still missed time, but I’m a lot happier now. We’re excited to have him in and watch him run the conditioning test — in front of the whole team.”

Although Cooper did miss a bit of training camp, his offseason work leaves him familiar with what’s expected of him.

“He got a zillion reps,” Arians said.

Cooper, a first-team Associated Press All-American, started a school-record 48 games at left guard for UNC and earned the 2012 Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best lineman in the ACC. He is the first guard taken in the top eight of the draft since 1982, when Mike Munchak was selected by the Houston Oilers as the eighth overall pick.

In a draft loaded with players up front, Cooper was the fifth lineman selected.

In the end, the Cardinals did not have to set any precedent after the two sides wrangled over some contract language technicalities, general manager Steve Keim said.

And, Keim said, the team already is impressed with Cooper, as a player and a person, simply by the way he worked through the summer.

“Indications that you get from rookies most of the time can have variances, from good to bad,” Keim said. “Early indications on Jonathan Cooper through OTAs and minicamp so far have been outstanding, almost to the point I would say better than advertised.”

Jones, U.S. win gold

KLAIPEDA, Lithuania — Behind a stifling defensive effort, as well as 16 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots from tournament MVP Breanna Stewart of Connecticut,, the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team held France to eight points in the second half en route to a 61-28 victory and the USA’s fifth-straight FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal on Sunday night.

The U.S. (9-0) has claimed six of the last seven U19 gold medals and boasts a 54-4 record over that span, while owning an all-time 66-12 record in U19 play. Duke sophomore Alexis Jones totaled nine points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 26 minutes of action on Sunday for the USA U19 squad. 

In the nine games, Jones averaged 10.0 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals, while collecting her third career gold medal with USA Basketball.  Jones started each of the nine contests and her 4.3 assists per game average ranked tied for fourth among all teams. “It feels real good,” commented Jones on winning her third gold medal with USA Basketball.  “I am excited, we worked hard for it.” In addition to Stewart, named to the 2013 All-FIBA U19 World Championship Team were Olivia Epoupa of France, Astou Ndour of Spain, Stephanie Talbot of Australia and Oregon State University’s Jamie Weisner of Canada. Both Ndour and Stewart were part of the five-member all-tournament team at the 2011 U19s.