Changes Bring Duke & Cook Together

Quinn Cook

The 2010-2011 season has yet to begin and yet Duke fans may already have to consider next year's off-season and the potential departure of the best point guard prospect the Blue Devils have seen in quite some time. In an effort to mitigate the potential loss of Kyrie Irving, however, the Duke coaches appear to be focusing on a very intriguing player.

A few months ago Duke was set at the point guard position for the next two or three years with Irving who was considered a good player, but definitely one that would stick around for more than a season. Around that time a D.C. area point guard named Quinn Cook was known to the recruiting circuit, but had yet to have a real break out string of performances.

Things have since changed for Irving who has been projected as a top five overall prospect by some analysts. Similarly, Cook has seen his stock rise as his game has diversified and grown. Earlier this month he lead Team USA's U17 team to a Gold Medal in the FIBA World Championships as a captain and a true floor general.

"I think I grew into the [captain's] role," said Cook. "The coaches had trust in me from day one. They wanted me to lead the team on the court and all around, so I had to grow into that expectation. They wanted me to be a coach on the floor. The coaches told me that the team would 'go as I go', which was a big responsibility."

Over the eight game event Cook started all eight games, playing an average of 21.1 minutes per contest. In that time he averaged 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 7.4 assists while maintaining a 2.5/1 assist to turnover ratio. All this while the Americans were forced to adapt to the rigors of International Basketball.

"The International game is a lot more physical and they play rough. Going into each game you have to be prepared for anything."

In addition to coming home with a World Championship medal, Cook says the experience of playing for his country was one that is life changing and one he'll always remember.

"The entire experience is something that changes your life. My thoughts going into camp were to just lead my team. I felt like that was my responsibility. From day one we talked about winning the gold. To accomplish that we had to sacrifice and put the team first. When we finally won it, it was the greatest feeling in the world."

"We lived together for a month, so naturally we formed a brotherhood. Nine players returned from last year's U16 team so we were all close, but the new guys - Tony Wroten, Marquis Teague, and Michael Gilchrist - were all close with me, so it was great. We will all have a special relationship going forward."

In addition to their on the court endeavors, the team was able to experience a bit of the local culture away from the game as well.

"One thing about USA Basketball is that everything is first class. We were fortunate enough to go to very nice restaurants and to stay in very nice hotels. On one of our days off we were able to go on a boat to get a tour of the city of Hamburg."

While in Germany and on the court, Cook did notice that one of the newest programs to enter his recruitment had sent an assistant coach to watch the games first hand.

"I saw Coach Nate James in the stands. I feel that I performed well in front of him. Really dishing the ball, playing defense, and being a leader on the floor."

Previously Cook had been getting interest from a number of schools such as Wake Forest, UConn, Arizona, UCLA, Georgetown, Tennessee, Baylor, Rutgers, St. Johns, Indiana, Arkansas, and NC State. However, with the Blue Devils now facing the potential departure of Irving, and with Cook's continued improvement it would appear as though Duke is jumping in with other heavyweights.

"Arizona, Connecticut, UCLA, Georgetown, and St. John's have all been on me the hardest of late. I think I have elevated my game and coaches are starting to notice more. Overall I like all the schools on my list and I'm looking for one where I can have the best career. One with an up tempo offense and with a great coach."

Of course Duke is somewhat late to the party, but Cook believes he has a handle on that situation.

"Coach K gave me a call and we talked about the situation. Coach K feels as though Kyrie could potentially leave early because he is that good. So we're in the process of establishing a relationship. I already liked Duke a lot. My god-brother, Nolan Smith, plays there so I'm familiar with the program. As far as coaching contact goes, Coach K is the only coach I've spoken with at Duke."

With an expanding list of interested programs to match his expanding ability level, Cook will also have to deal with additional media coverage for his senior year after transferring to national prep powerhouse Oak Hill. He's certainly not the first big time prospect to make the move, nor is he the first to see it's benefit.

"I felt it was the best move for me. My mom felt that I was a little too social at home and a lot of people were trying to become part of my circle. It was just a lot going on. Coach Jones (DeMatha) gave me his blessing on the decision to transfer. I feel by going to Oak Hill I will be better prepared for college on and off the court."

Whether it's on or off the court Cook says he draws motivation to succeed from his father who passed away in 2008.

"I do everything for him. He drives me to be better on and off the court. I just really want to make my family proud of me. I like to have fun, and I don't know what profession I want to pursue, but I want to be driven and do something that makes me happy."

Cook is rated as a five star prospect by Scout.com. He is considered the nation's No. 3 rated floor general in the class of 2011 and the No. 20 overall player in the class.

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