By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Golden State Warriors guard Quinn Cook has already become something of a legend in Prince George’s County. There is a story that he caught the eye of a prominent former college basketball coach as a freshman at DeMatha, who knew he would be a can’t miss, NBA prodigy.
The parent of an upperclassmen, who didn’t want to be identified, was investing in his son’s development with a private trainer as he thought his son was a major college prospect heading into his senior year. The former coach supposedly told the father, “Your son can play mid-major college basketball, but that youngster is going to the NBA.”
That youngster with the greater upside proved to be Cook.
He took a circuitous route to the Association and may never become the star that his teammate Kevin Durant is; however, when it comes to being a legend of the P.G. hardwood there is no doubt. Cook was “a bad man” which is the highest praise that a basketball player can get from peers.
Freshmen who play at DeMatha normally have to wait their turn to get minutes, but Cook took his and never looked back. He was able to earn his playing time on a team loaded with talent, not only because of his skill, but because of his personality.
“He has always been good with people,” Ron Bailey, owner of I-95ballerz.com, a local website and blog that covers amateur basketball in the D.M.V. area told the AFRO. “Stars have always liked being around and playing with him.”
However, that never diminished the fact that his confidence in himself was ever lacking. Despite being what would be considered an undersized guard by today’s standards, Cook was never a player that would back down from a challenge. Whether it was at Dematha, while playing in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, or at Duke University when he played for a team that would ultimately win a national championship, Cook would find a way to make plays that would help his team win.
“He played with a moxy from the first time he stepped on the court and played bigger than his size,” Bailey said. “He’s a guy that figured out how to put the ball in the basket and faced up to every challenge.”
Cook’s three year run at Dematha was one of the great eras in the rich history of their basketball program. The Stags were 85-18 during that stretch and were ranked number one after his junior year. That season he earned all-Met honors from the Washington Post and was the first underclassmen in three decades to earn that award.
However, there were still doubts about his size and whether he could really play major college basketball. Cook vindicated himself after transferring to Oak Hill Academy for his senior year. Oak Hill gave him another stage to prove himself, while playing with phenomenal talent that he would ultimately blend with. He led the Oak Hill Warriors to a 31-4 record, averaging 19.1 ppg, 10.9 apg and 2.5 steals.
Cook worked hard to find his niche at Duke before and didn’t play starter’s minutes until he was a senior. He was a co-captain for a team that won a national championship, yet he wasn’t drafted. He could’ve gone overseas and capitalized on that success but chose the NBA G-League, before getting his NBA shot.
In 2018 his resilience paid off as he earned his first world championship ring. Had it not been for his virtuoso effort in game two of this year’s NBA Finals, the injured world champions would have probably gotten swept.