ATLANTA -– The Atlanta Hawks today announced the team has signed rookie draft picks Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper. Cooper’s contract is a two-way contract. Per team policy, terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
Johnson, the Hawks’ first round pick (20th overall) in the 2021 NBA Draft, appeared in 13 games last season (eight starts) during his freshman season at Duke, averaging 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 21.4 minutes (.523 FG%, .444 3FG%, .632 FT%).
In his collegiate debut on Nov. 28 vs. Coppin State, the 6’9 Johnson tallied 19 points, 19 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in 35 minutes (8-8 FGs, 1-1 3FGs, 2-2 FTs). On Jan. 19 at Pitt, he put in 24 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals in 33 minutes (8-15 FGs, 1-1 3FGs, 7-10 FTs). In a Jan. 26 contest against Georgia Tech, Johnson scored 18 points on 7-11 FGs and 4-6 FTs in 24 minutes, adding six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks.
Johnson began his high school career at Sun Prairie High School (WI), where he put in 18.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.5 blocks, leading the Cardinals to a 25-2 mark and an appearance in the state semifinals. He spent his final two seasons at Nicolet High School (WI), averaging 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists as a senior. He is a native of Milwaukee, WI.
The 6’1 Cooper, selected by the Hawks in the second round (48th overall) of the 2021 NBA Draft, appeared in 12 games as a freshman last season at Auburn and averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 33.1 minutes. He scored in double figures in all 12 contests, including a career-best 28 points twice (Jan. 13 at Georgia and Jan. 26 vs. Missouri). He is one of two NCAA Division I freshman in the last 30 years (joining Trae Young) to average 20 points and 8 assists per game.
Cooper played his high school ball at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, where he led the team to the first state title in school history as a junior in 2018-19 and has his jersey retired. He is a former Mr. Georgia Basketball and Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year. He was born in Newark, NJ before moving to the Atlanta area. His sister, Te’a, plays for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
Only players with three-or-fewer years of NBA experience are permitted to sign two-way contracts. Per league rules, teams are allowed to have up to two two-way players on their roster at any given time, in addition to their 15-man regular season roster. A two-way player for the Hawks will spend time with the team’s NBA G League Affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, but can be on the Atlanta Hawks’ active list for up to 50 games during the 2021-22 regular season.