Chris Cokley learned valuable lessons about basketball and life during his prep days playing for Tim Jordan at Savannah High.
He became a dominating force on the court for the Blue Jackets, helping lead Savannah High to the state finals his sophomore and junior seasons, and earning a scholarship to play at the University of Alabama Birmingham.
He also learned the importance of having an influence in your community by watching the way Jordan handled himself as a coach and mentor at the school known as “The High.”
Cokley, who has been playing professionally overseas after a stellar college career at UAB, is looking forward to giving back this week where everything started for him as he is hosting the Chris Cokley Elite Basketball Camp at Savannah High on Friday and Saturday, July 15-16, from from 9 am to 1 pm each day.
The camp is for boys and girls ages 6-14, and the fee of $25 includes a T-shirt. To register, contact Cokley at 912-272-1610 or Savannah High girls basketball coach George Johnson at 912-507-8573.
“Coach Jordan had a huge impact on me, he was like a father figure on and off the court and he taught me to be a man,” Cokley said. “We’re excited about the camp. It’s going to give kids a chance to learn the game and have some fun.”
At UAB, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward was a member of the Blazers squad that knocked off No. 3 seed Iowa State as a No. 14 seed in the 2015 NCAA tournament. He was a key player for the Blazers as a sophomore, helping lead the squad to a school record 26 wins. As a senior, he was an All-Conference USA first-team selection after averaging 16.9 and 8.7 rebounds per game.
Cokley has been playing overseas in places like Slovakia, Ukraine and in NBA Africa with teams including Rwanda.
“It’s a very different experience playing overseas, and I’ve learned a lot in each country I have played in,” Cokley said. “Each place is unique in its own way. I had a real good experience playing in Ukraine, and I’ve been really sad watching everything that has happened there since Russia invaded.”
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Cokley, who turns 26 on July 27, plans to continue playing overseas and said he will solidify his plans as August approaches. He said he wants to honor the memory of his mom, the late Angela Green, by having an impact in the Savannah community with events like this camp.
In the meantime, he is spending quality time with his wife, Brittany, and their young daughter, Aubree. He has also become an author of children’s books following up his first publication “Forever Friends,” which teaches children to accept different races and cultures, with “Forever Friends: Do We Still Wear Masks?”
Jordan said he is proud of everything Cokley has accomplished in basketball and as a father, husband and man.
“Chris was always such a great kid, and he had a great mom who supported him every step of the way. I was raised by a single mom myself, so I felt like I always had the connection with him,” Jordan said. “He was a player who always came early and stayed late, and he worked hard in the weight room to become a Division I player.
“Anytime we have a Savannah High alum giving back to the Blue Jacket community, we’re happy about it. He wants to make this an annual thing, and I think it can get bigger every year. We’re all really proud of Chris .”
Dennis Knight covers sports for the Savannah Morning News. Contact him at Dknight@savannahnow.com. Twitter: @DennisKnightSMN