It’s the basketball off-season and, as per usual, Coach Dana Altman is out busy recruiting players from around the country to fit his scheme for the upcoming season. Around this time last year, Altman recruited the extremely talented, high-flying Elgin Cook from the JC ranks.
This past season, Cook made a huge impact with the 2014 NCAA tournament-bound Ducks, and he is expected to do the same next season as well — thankfully, given that several players have either graduated, transferred, or left the team for other reasons. So, before Cook begins his reign of dominance next year – and before I can say “I told you so” — let’s take a look at where he’s from and what he’s all about.
Cook was born Elgin Rashad Cook to parents Alvin Robertson and Cecelia Cook in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If the name “Alvin Robertson” sounds familiar, it’s because he’s an NBA legend. Not only was Robertson a four-time all-star and one-time Defensive POY, but he’s also one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double.
Robertson was also named most-improved player in 1986, and still holds the record for career steals-per game at 2.71. In addition to having a gold medal from the 1984 Summer Olympics, Robertson has the notoriety of having a son as talented as Elgin. Clearly, Cook’s defensive prowess and work ethic exhibited last season were handed down from his father.
Cook showcased these skills in Milwaukee up until the end of his junior year in high school. While living with his mother, Cook averaged 16 points and 7.5 rebounds on the way to a Wisconsin state tournament appearance. Although being academically ineligible for three games and later breaking his wrist, Cook still managed to lead Hamilton High School to a 20-4 mark.
During this time, Cook was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. He was first team all-city, first team all-league, conference POY, and Wisconsin’s best player, per Wisconsin Sports Network ratings. Wisconsin high school basketball fans were excited to see what Cook would do his senior year, especially since 6’8″ teammate Kevon Looney was beginning to blossom – but Cook abruptly moved to Houston.
When asked by Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel why he chose to leave the state and enrol in the Christian Life Center Academy, Cook replied that it was because of the competition. “Houston is a much bigger city and there’s a lot more competition. And it’s a prep school, so there are people from all over, not just Milwaukee … I needed to grow as a player and as a student, and I thought it would be better to go to Christian Life.”
Cook excelled enough in Houston to receive – and accept — an offer from Iowa State, but again he confused commentators by withdrawing that commitment, instead attending Northwest Florida St.
After red-shirting his first season, Cook caught fire in his second year. Named the conference POY, Cook led his No. 3-ranked squad to a 30-4 record and the NJCAA national championship game. During this sophomore campaign, Cook averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds, while shooting an astounding 65 percent from the field! The 6th-rated JC prospect began to draw Division I scouts from around the country, including our beloved Oregon.
After a short period of contemplation, Cook chose to transfer to Eugene instead of Gonzaga, due to his father being close friends with a Ducks assistant coach.
Cook found Oregon to his liking, and quickly began where he left off, using his incredible athleticism and dedication to will the Ducks to victory. He led the team in field goal percentage — he was third all-time for the Ducks in this category — and although he averaged only 17 minutes per game, Cook still managed to average 7 points a game.
While he didn’t excel in every contest, when the Ducks needed him, he was there. He was particularly effective against USC, North Dakota, and BYU, his best game all season, with 23 points and 8 boards.
Everyone familiar with Ducks hoops loves Elgin Cook. He has all the tools required to be great, including a toughness instilled in him by his dad — and he still has two years of eligibility left. While largely a bench player in the last campaign, look for him to compete for a starting position during the 2014-2015 season.
A season that just may belong to Elgin Cook.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck