St. Ignatius’ Jackson Kotecki, Bolingbrook’s Mekhi Cooper commit to Miami (Ohio)

Anyone who has taken the time to watch and evaluate Bolingbrook’s Mekhi Cooper and St. Ignatius’ Jackson Kotecki since the conclusion of the high school season has seen the change.

SHARE St. Ignatius’ Jackson Kotecki, Bolingbrook’s Mekhi Cooper commit to Miami (Ohio)
Bolingbrook’s Mekhi Cooper (0) dribbles the ball as Marian Catholic’s Eddie Barrett (5) defends.

Bolingbrook’s Mekhi Cooper (0) dribbles the ball as Marian Catholic’s Eddie Barrett (5) defends.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Anyone who has taken the time to watch and evaluate Bolingbrook’s Mekhi Cooper and St. Ignatius’ Jackson Kotecki since the conclusion of the high school season has seen the change.

Both have taken their games to another level this offseason — Cooper as an exciting scoring point guard and Kotecki as an emerging, versatile 6-8 forward.

Timing is everything.

Travis Steele was hired as the new head coach at Miami (Ohio) just in time to see the transformation in the two Illinois prospects.

Steele, who was named the new coach at Miami in late March, watched both players in June with their high school teams. He followed them in July while they played with their AAU teams. He landed them both this past week.

Both Cooper and Kotecki took recent official visits to Miami and came away with a similar family feeling and a unique place to call home.

“The first visit I took it felt like a family,” Cooper said. “I felt like the coaches were really honest with me, and I felt like that was going to be home for me.”

Kotecki felt the same.

“When they got me to campus, I just knew the first time there that there was something special about the place,” Kotecki said. “I love the coaches there, the campus and knew it was a perfect fit for me.”

Cooper and Kotecki were familiar with one another after playing a year ago together while with the Mac Irvin Fire on the club basketball circuit. The two communicated with one another during the decision-making process these past two weeks.

Following Kotecki’s commitment, Cooper hit the St. Ignatius big man up for his thoughts on the visit and Miami in general. They talked about the program and, specifically, the player development plan Steele and his staff presented to them both.

St Ignatius’ Jackson Kotecki (24) drives the ball past Chaminade.

St Ignatius’ Jackson Kotecki (24) drives the ball past Chaminade.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

“Jackson is my guy, so I hit him and texted with him after his visit,” Cooper said. “I told him I’m going to have to come there and team up with him. It’s always a good thing to have someone from back home. It will be good to team up with him again.”

Kotecki reiterated Cooper’s thoughts, saying he’s “excited” to play with Cooper at Miami.

“We had good chemistry and definitely gelled together in the short time we played together with the Fire,” Kotecki said.

In addition to feeling ecstatic about their college choice, both Cooper and Kotecki are also feeling more confident after a breakout spring and summer. Both showed improvement and raised their stock among college coaches and vaulted up the City/Suburban Hoops Report’s player rankings.

“I definitely think I’ve taken my game to another level,” said Cooper, who dazzled at times in the high school summer shootouts at R-B and Ridgewood. “Coming into June I feel like I’ve elevated my whole game and turned into both a scorer and facilitator.”

Kotecki’s transformation has come slowly but surely. He’s now playing aggressively and showcasing his athleticism and face-up shooting ability.

“It’s all been about confidence, really,” Kotecki said. “It’s about me just going out there and knowing I can compete with anyone and that I can play against anyone in the state. There is a confidence in going out there and doing my own thing and playing my hardest at all times.”

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