Cook A New Player This Year

Tyler Cook talks about the keys to his vastly-improved game, his optimism for this spring with the St. Louis Eagles, and his busy recruitment

2016 St. Louis (MO) Chaminade HS power forward Tyler Cook is one of the key members on a stacked St. Louis Eagles EYBL team this year. Playing with so many other skilled athletes, especially in the post, has helped him play at a higher level.

"It frees me up a lot,” he said. "Teams have to pay attention to more than just one of us. There are three or four or five of us that are big. We have a really big team this year on the floor. They can’t double any of us since we can get it to our other guys and get ourselves better looks."

With an array of skilled and athletic big men, Cook and his teammates know they have an advantage over almost all of their competitors.

"We’re all able to move,” he said, "We have good footwork with our bigs. We spent a lot of time in conditioning and working on our transition game. We like to get out and run. We’re athletic and want to use that to our advantage."

Plus having a player of Jayson Tatum’s caliber oils the machine as a whole. He’s not only an elite scorer, but Scout’s #3 prospect nationally and Cook’s teammate at Chaminade is an equally good facilitator.

"Just like with the bigs, they can’t focus on any one of us,” Cook said. "It helps the rest of us get open looks. Having him on the court, he’s a great distributor, a great passer, and a great teammate. He makes good decisions with the ball and makes everyone else’s job easier."

Cook’s athleticism has noticeably improved over the last year. He has become a more explosive player and finishes more often at the rim.

"I’ve noticed (the improvement) a lot,” he said. "I get up and down the floor faster and get up over the rim more. It’s conditioning work and getting my athleticism on a whole new level. I can block shots better now and contest everything. I can defend multiple positions, too."

Cook’s recruitment has taken off over the past season. Coaches came to Chaminade to see more than just Jayson Tatum, and Cook was impressive all year.

"The most recent offers were Illinois and Arkansas,” Cook said. "Everybody that’s offered me has been in constant contact with me. It’s going to be a tough decision because a lot of great schools and great coaches have been recruiting me. I’m blessed to be in this position, so I want to take my time and make the best decision."

Cook will be looking not only at the fit from a personality standpoint but also from a depth chart standpoint. He hopes to play early and find a spot where he can contribute right away.

"Based upon my relationship with the coaching staff and the style of play,” Cook said. "I’m looking at the players: Who all is there now and who will be leaving. There are a lot of different factors involved."

Cook doesn’t want to put off the process and have to scramble at the end. He hopes to start setting up his official visits in the near future with the hope of approaching a decision early this fall.

"I’m trying to get my visits in by the middle of the summer,” Cook said. "I want to give myself plenty of time to use all my five. So I’m trying to decide on visits pretty soon."

Since receiving the Illinois offer, the Illini coaches, especially assistant Jamall Walker who recruits the St. Louis area, have been persistent in building a strong relationship with the 2016 prospect.

“(The relationship has) grown tremendously,” he said. "They’ve been talking to myself and my parents regularly, at least a couple times a week. I’ve gotten to know them and their program a lot better the last couple months."

Illinois also offers something Cook is really looking for in a school, the opportunity to play early and be in the rotation from the start.

"They have an open spot at my position and could use me and have me make an impact right away,” he said. "That’s one of the big reasons I like them. That and I like their coaching staff also."

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