Cohen, Jeff : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Cohen, Jeff

Cohen is the only Jewish player in Division I history to register 2000 points and 1000 rebounds in his career. Jeff was an outstanding player at the College of William & Mary for four seasons. One of the Southern Conference's top scorers during his career, he was named the Southern Conference male athlete-of-the-year in 1961. In 1990, William and Mary retired Cohen's jersey, No. 52. His 1,679 career rebounds ranks No. 9 all-time (before 1973) in the history of NCAA Division I college basketball.

Birth and Death Dates:

Career Highlights:
One of the best college players in the South during his career, Cohen was a solid contributor in his first full season at William and Mary (1958), and showed flashes of the scoring potential that was still to come. That year, the freshman center was named Southern Conference first team All-tournament after leading the Tribe to a record of 15-14 (9-9 in conference).

As a sophomore in 1959, Cohen was among the league leaders in scoring with 16.5 points per game, and earned his first conference honors by being named second team All-Southern Conference. The Tribe finished with a mark of 13-11 (7-7 in conference) and Cohen repeated as first team All-tournament.

By his junior season, Cohen was one of the Southern Conference's top players and the leader of the William & Mary team. He led the Tribe to a record of 15-11 (10-5 in conference) and was named first team All-Southern Conference. Jeff finished second in the conference in scoring average (24.2) behind the great Jerry West. Cohen's 24.2 points per game also led all college players in the state of Virginia.

In 1961, Cohen capped a marvelous college career by being named Helms third team All-America, first team All-Southern Conference, and again led the state of Virginia in scoring with a 24.0 average. That year, Cohen set Southern Conference tournament records in free throws made (40) and attempted (54) in a three-game tournament.

The Tribe (14-10, 9-6 in conference) made it to the conference championship and were favored to defeat the lowly 9-16 George Washington Colonials. Cohen made 38 points in the championship game, but was outscored by GW's Jon Feldman's, who dropped in 45 points to lead the Colonials to victory. Despite the disappointment of never making the NCAA tournament, Cohen had a fantastic career, finishing with 2,003 career points. He also racked up 1,679 career rebounds and was only the eighth player in Division I history to accomplish the feat of registering over 2000 points and 1000 rebounds in a career.

After graduating from William and Mary, Cohen turned pro, playing in the brand new American Basketball League. In 1961, he played in 76 games for the Hawaii Chiefs and averaged 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The Chiefs finished with a rather dismal record of 29-53 and lost in the first round playoff game to the New York Tapers, 125-116 in overtime; Cohen scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in the game.

The following year, the ABL only had six teams at the beginning of the season and Cohen moved to the Chicago Majors after Hawaii disbanded. At the end of 1962, however, the entire league disbanded with Chicago in last place with a 8-20 record. Cohen appeared in 26 games and averaged 12.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.


Career Dates:
Cohen played center at the College of William and Mary from 1957-1961. He then played in the American Basketball League from 1961-62.

Physical description:

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Ronald Encyclopedia of Basketball, edited by William G. Mokray (Ronald Press: 1962)