Arkansas added yet another one of the nation’s top junior college basketball players Thursday when Connors State power forward Arlando Cook announced he was going to be Razorback.
Cook (6-9, 215), a four-star prospect who had been committed to Nevada earlier, chose Arkansas over Iowa State and also had offers from LSU, Memphis, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Missouri and others during the process.
He visited Arkansas unofficially in late August and made the decision this week that Razorback head coach Mike Anderson’s family-oriented and fast-paced program had what he needed.
“The environment and the type of people,” Cook said of the biggest factors in his decision. “When you’re playing basketball, it’s more than just basketball, it’s also the people you’re around. The coaching staff at Arkansas are good people to be around.
“With me having two years left, those are the type of people I want to be around.”
Cook – averaging 17.5 points so far this season – said the fact that Anderson and Razorback assistant T.J. Cleveland came to see him play Tuesday night and move quickly to seal the deal was big.
“It kind of put them a little bit over the top,” Cook said. “Even though it wasn’t in their hometown and they still flew in and saw me.”
Cook joins Motlaw, Tenn., State point guard Jaylen Barford (6-4, 205), Holmes, Miss., Community College shooting guard Daryl Macon (6-4, 180) as well as Campti, La., Lakeview forward Adrio Bailey (6-8, 205) as Razorback commits in the 2016 class.
“I really don’t doubt my ability to play on that level of competition and I’m really looking forward to coming in,” Cook said.
Arkansas is also hoping to add Bentonville’s Malik Monk (6-4, 190) to the mix, which now numbers three of the nation’s top four junior college players.
The early signing period runs from Nov. 11-18 and all are expected to sign during that time.
“The fast tempo and talk about 40 minutes of Hell and with Arkansas being a team that likes to move and run, I just feel like that’s one of the things that’s in my game,” Cook said.
“I like being around players that are tough and have fun and like to run and really want to win.”
Cook averaged 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists last season as a freshman for Connors, who finished 32-2, won a fourth straight Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference title and made it to the final eight of the national junior college tournament.
He is a native of St. Louis who averaged 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds as a high school senior at Madison Prep.
“I was the type player that once upon of time wasn’t going to graduate and I finally became a man and put my pride to the side and worked hard for it and it’s paying off,” Cook said. “I’m real proud of myself.
“I started using my brain and realizing it’s not too late."
Jucorecruiting.com analyst Brad Winton likes what he sees in Cook.
“Cook is one of the more skilled forwards in the 2016 JC class and has good hands and a more developed low post game than most JC forwards,” Winton said. “ He is a good athlete who can step out and attack off the dribble from the high post or the perimeter.
Winton also likes the entire collection.
“Arkansas put together an impressive 2016 JC class with Jaylen Barford, Daryl Macon and Arlando Cook.,” Winton said. “All three have ability to produce immediately.
“I hate to throw around ‘great fit/good get’, but these three JC prospects do fit well into Arkansas' up-tempo style of play.”
Arlando Cook poses with his MVP trophy after last season's Region II tournament.