"In terms of me getting an education and my family being able to see me play, I chose Ohio State," Cook said. "The reason I chose Ohio State was for my friends and family and because I can get a good education there."
Cook was asked why he made the decision so early.
"Felt it was the right time for it," he said. "I've been thinking about it a lot and this was the right time to get it out of the way."
Cook informed OSU's staff of his decision on Tuesday afternoon.
"I went up there yesterday and they were very excited," Cook said. "They couldn't stop shaking my hand.
"I love Ohio State," he added.
Cook says Matta was a huge factor in his decision.
"I just love Coach Matta," Cook said. "He's been a winning coach everywhere he's been. He has been in March Madness and has pulled out some big wins. I just like his coaching."
Cook and his mother Ranee
The 6-5 Cook is ranked as Ohio's No. 1 junior prospect by Ohio High and as the nation's No. 6 junior by ScoutHoops.com. He averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds per game as a junior, earning co-state player of the year honors and leading Dunbar to a 22-5 record and a berth in the Division II state semifinals.
Cook attended OSU's win over No. 1-ranked Illinois in early March, then enjoyed playing in Value City Arena for the state tournament.
This is considered to be a major coup for Matta. Cook's verbal would give Matta, who has 122 wins in five years as a college coach, even more credibility in recruiting circles.
He is hopeful of playing college ball with his AAU teammates Greg Oden and Mike Conley of Indianapolis Lawrence North. Oden is considering a jump to the NBA, while Conley had been leaning to Wake Forest.
In terms of a possible domino effect in terms of OSU landing Ohio's other top players in the future, Cook said, "I think a lot of Ohio kids have been waiting for a big player like me to go to Ohio State. Now that I have made this decision, there will be a lot of other guys in the state that will make the same decision as me."
Cook was asked if there were any specific players he would like to see commit to OSU.
"Well, a few of my AAU friends, like Greg, Mike, and David Lighty. We have all been talking about going to the same school and playing together."
Cook would be eligible to sign in the early signing period for college recruits in November and would be a freshman at his college of choice in 2006-07.
If it is, indeed, Ohio State, Cook, as a national top-10 prospect, could be viewed as OSU's biggest basketball recruit since Jim Jackson committed to head coach Gary Williams and assistant Randy Ayers in 1989.
It could also start an avalanche of highly ranked players clamoring to sign with the Buckeyes. OSU has two scholarships available for current high school seniors or junior college transfers or, if they don't add any players this year, they would have as many as six scholarships for current juniors.
Cook says there is still about a "30 percent chance" he will opt for the NBA directly out of high school. He says it will depend on whether or not he is expected to be a lottery pick.
"It's still in the back of my head," he said. "That's another reason why I made this commitment early."
We have more comments from Cook on:
* What it will take to put OSU on top -- "Work and players. That's it. I can't say much about the team they have because I'm not there. But when I get there, I'm going to make it big time.
"The guys I'm going to bring with me will help us get there."
* Matta's move from Xavier to OSU -- "When I heard he moved from Xavier to Ohio State, that made me like Ohio State even more. At one point in time, I did like Ohio State until they had that incident."
* His affinity for the Buckeyes -- "It was a good environment and a big school. I like Ohio State. I love their football team. I love the football environment. It's crazy. They have the best football team in the country. It's close and my family can see me play."
* The chances he will go straight to the NBA -- "It's about 70 percent that I will be an Ohio State Buckeye. I would have to be a first-round lottery pick.
"I'm still going to play hard. I have a goal to still go to the NBA. I'm just going to keep working hard. That isn't going to change any of my goals or perspectives."
* How long he has pondered verbaling -- "It's been on my mind for a while, thinking about going to Ohio State. I just thought it was the right time to do it."
* Regarding academics -- Cook said, to his knowledge, he is on track to qualify academically. "Now I will focus on getting my test score together," he said.
Click the link below for comments from basketball recruiting experts on Cook's verbal to Ohio State: