By T. Scott Boatright
It’ll be an old school head coaches reunion as Ruston High School plays host to Franklin Parish at 7 p.m. today during play in the fourth annual Remington Butler Classic at the RHS main gym.
That’s “old school” as in Dunkin’ Dogs basketball – Ruston coach Ryan Bond was a senior on the 1995 Louisiana Tech basketball team when Franklin Parish coach Lonnie Cooper was a starting freshman for the Bulldogs.
Being former teammates isn’t the only connection between the pair.
Bond, a 1992 graduate of Weston High School, starred at LA Tech between 1992-96, totaling 1,014 points and gathering in 553 rebounds before going on to play 10 seasons professionally for Croatia, Kosovo and Germany in the European Leagues.
Cooper starred at Tech from 1995-99, totaling 1,451 points, 523 assists and 153 steals. He was a three-time All-Sun Belt Conference, All-Louisiana and NABC All-District selection, and was named the Louisiana Player of the Year when Tech won the league title his senior season before going on to play 10 seasons as an international player in France, Finland and Milan, Italy among other places.
“I was a senior at Tech and he came in as a freshman and started from day one,” Bond said about Cooper. “I was a senior, he was a freshman. He was a point guard and I played the post. We were teammates, but it wasn’t like we were super close at that point or anything.
“But now, yes. We talk all the time now. My last year playing professional ball I was in Germany and we were scrimmaging a team from France. It was a scrimmage, so there wasn’t a lot of scouting, and in walks Lonnie. He was a point guard for that team from France. I had seen him in a couple of years and it was kind of neat seeing him walk in.”
Bond said he knew right away Cooper was the real deal on the basketball court.
“You could tell right from the start,” Bond said. “He had that skillset you don’t see very often in a college freshman. He had that mental toughness, too. You could just tell he was a special player. He played hard like his Franklin players do now. They get after you. They’re a reflection of Lonnie.”
Bond and Cooper crossed paths multiple times overseas but the pair truly connected when both moved on to high school coaching careers in Louisiana.
“He’s a great guy and has a great family,” Bond said. “His wife is as sweet as can be and his son is a sophomore who plays for him. His son is a great kid and a pretty good shooter, but not as good as his daddy was.
“Even if I don’t see Lonnie for quite a while, when we get together and start talking, it’s like we see each other every day. We’ve always stayed in touch, but once we both got into coaching, we talk about other teams and share film and that kind of thing.”
Tonight won’t be the first time Bond and Cooper have coached against each other.
“When he was at Carroll they beat up on us a couple of times,” Bond said. “We played them during the summer when he first went to Franklin Parish, but overall this will probably be the fifth or sixth time we’ve gone against each other.”
Bond said it’s both fun and competitive when the duo’s teams face off.
“There may or may not be a little trash talk going across the way (tonight),” Bond said. “He moves around like I do, so we may or may not say a few things to each other.
“But it’s all in good fun. Win or lose, either way we’re going to hug after the game and try to help each other out moving down the road. I want them to be successful except when they play us. I know he feels the same way.”
This weekend’s RHS Classic is named in honor of Remington Butler, who was a freshman at RHS in April of 2019 when he and his mother died during a F3 tornado that ripped across parts of Ruston.
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