EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The play of freshman Carson Cooper has been a pleasant surprise for the Michigan State Spartans this year.

The Jackson native who went to IMG Academy in Florida has gotten more playing time over the last few weeks, but as our Ian Kress shares, playing this season wasn’t initially in the cards for Cooper.

“It’s been nothing but great,” Cooper said. “I’ve just kept buying in to everything that’s been going on and I think that I’ve been put in the right position to get to my potential.”

Cooper said he got to MSU thanks to one of his coaches at IMG Academy who kept in touch with Tom Izzo during his senior year.

The Spartans saw Cooper play in an event, and decided to offer him. That led him to change his plans from playing another year at IMG Academy and come to East Lansing.

Cooper said coming back to Michigan to play for the Spartans is a dream come true.

“You don’t really think about the reality of playing this close to home. It’s just a really cool opportunity and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The freshman said despite growing up just in the Mitten State, he didn’t have a strong allegiance to either MSU or the University of Michigan.

“I hate to say this but I was pretty much 50-50,” Cooper said.

The 6-foot-11 freshman said he really didn’t grow up in a huge sports family, and eventually fell in love with basketball after he hit a growth spurt and his friends told him to give the sport a shot.

“I just started playing it and I loved it and I just wanted to keep playing at the next level,” Cooper said.

Prior to fully committing to basketball, Cooper was actually a soccer goalie, which he said helped with his foot work and hand-eye coordination.

To watch the full interview, check out the video player at the top of the page.