Fanshawe hosts All-Star contest

RYAN PYETTE, FREE PRESS SPORTS REPORTER

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

It takes a big heart to help charity but Jabari Cooper will compete with a heavy one today.

A week after his mother Merle died of kidney disease, the Fanshawe basketball star will take part in the third annual All-Star Charity Shootout contest showcasing 20 top university and college cagers at 4:30 p.m. at Fanshawe College's J-Gym.

"She loved watching me play," the 24-year-old Londoner said. "She was too ill to come to the games, but she never missed one when we were playing on TV."

Cooper, Ontario college basketball rookie of the year, didn't want to miss the game, which raises money for two competing charities. The winning team's charity scoops up 60 per cent of the proceeds while the loser gets the remaining 40 per cent.

"It's a big deal," he said. "London has always been a good ball town. There are great players here and whenever you go in something like the Gus Macker, you find out how tough it is here."

Cooper will suit up for the London Regional Children Museum-sponsored team which includes Western star Andy Wedemire and will be coached by Mustangs boss Brad Campbell. They'll tip-off against a Team Kids Help Phone roster that boasts Fanshawe's top gun Pat Sewell -- the 2006-07 Canadian college player of the year -- and will be led by head coach Glenn Johnston.

Sewell graduates in August but he hasn't ruled out a return to the Falcons to try and bring the school the national championship his team fell just short of this season.

"I have two more years of eligibility left so we'll see what happens."

There's been a revival at the top end of London men's basketball with Fanshawe winning the Ontario title last season and Western returning to the playoffs after three years.

But to repeat next year, the Falcons will need big performances each night from the six-foot-four Cooper. Pat Wright is on his way to Western to try his hand at football and point guard Omar Sybbliss hasn't made a decision.

"It's early and we don't know what might happen but I could be the only starter back next year," Cooper said. "I would like to step up into a leadership role and be more vocal. Last year, I didn't know if I was going to play and kind of walked on and made the team, but I watched Pat (Sewell) and he came into the season in tremendous shape. He had a great year. I'm going to train hard and be ready when the season starts."

Fanshawe went into the national championships with a real shot at the title but those hopes fizzled when Sewell injured his ankle.

He says he is completely healed, although he wears a brace to protect it.

"I thought they could've won without me, but injuries happen and there's not much you can do about it. It was a great year. I think the program is strong."

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SHOOTOUT ROSTERS

Team Kids Help Phone

Paul Campbell, UAFS; Tut Ruach, York; Shane James, Loyola; Pat Sewell, Fanshawe; Dany Charlery, Brandon; Boris Bakovic, Ryerson; Maurice Smith, Sheridan; Devoe Joseph, Pickering high school; Adrian Hynes, Dawson; Kevin Kloostra, Windsor. Coach: Glenn Johnston, Fanshawe

London Regional Children's Museum

Patrick Tatham, Cleveland State; Tyrone Mattison, Long Island; Josh Gibson, Ottawa; Paul Blake, Cape Breton; Paulo Sanata, Acadia; Andy Wedemire, Western; Sherone Edwards, UPEI; Jabari Cooper, Fanshawe; Yul Michel, Brandon; Ahmed Eman, Algonquin. Coach: Brad Campbell, Western


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