Height/Weight: 6’9″, 253 lbs
Cook’s size and strength immediately catch your eye when you watch him play. He has a great frame and uses his sculpted 6’9″, 253 pound body to overpower smaller defenders at the rim.
He is a tremendous athlete as well, often demonstrating his quickness and leaping ability by driving past defenders and finishing with highlight reel dunks. Cook is an excellent finisher around the rim, as he utilizes solid footwork and a variety of moves in the post to finish strong with either hand.
While he’s at his best on the offensive end facing the basket and driving to the rim aggressively, he has also shown some improvement as a jump shooter from year to year at Iowa, now possessing the ability to knock down mid-range shots with consistency.
Cook’s biggest strengths are his high motor and defensive ability. His size, strength and quickness allow him to guard the 3-5 positions effectively. His effort and motor make him a very good rebounder on both sides of the floor. Even when he’s not making shots, Cook always has a huge impact on the game thanks to his consistency on defense and on the glass.
Despite his great strength and athletic ability, Cook’s game doesn’t fit in very well with today’s NBA. He’s not a true stretch four, and he’s not quite tall enough to be a five at the next level. Cook has struggled offensively versus taller defenders, which we saw this season against Michigan State as Cook was over-matched in the post when up against the Spartans’ Nick Ward. He’ll also need to extend his range to the three point line if he wants to get consistent minutes at power forward at the next level.
Another glaring weakness in Cook’s game is his tendency to put his head down when he drives it to the basket, which often results in bad shots or turnovers. This is something he’ll need to show improvement on throughout this season.
Cook tested the NBA waters last year before deciding to return for his junior season, but he’s had some ups and downs to start the 2018-19 season. Love his strength, athletic ability, and effort; three things that you can’t teach and are hard to find. However, he needs to display improvement in several areas as the season goes on if he wants to hear his name called in June. The biggest things to watch for with Cook in Big Ten play are how well he does against other physical and/or taller opponents, and if he can limit his turnovers and bad shots when attacking the basket. Sometimes Cook seems to try to get anxious when things aren’t going well and that’s when he gets too aggressive and forces the issue. If he starts to show more maturity and limit those kinds of plays while also extending his range and being more consistent at the free throw line, it will pay dividends and he should find his way onto an NBA roster next October.