CHICAGO — Tyler Cook has shrunk.
The University of Iowa told us Cook was 6-foot-9. The NBA measured him Thursday at 6-7 1/4.
Well, it’s not the first time a college basketball team has inflated the sizes of its players. However, Cook has closed the week with more than what he had when it began.
No, he didn’t post much for numbers in the scrimmage he played in here Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine, with two dunks for four points in 14 minutes.
On the whole, though, Cook has had an immensely satisfying week here so far. Particularly because he came to Chicago without an invitation to the combine. He wasn’t among the 60-some players in the main event here, but was one of 40 collegians invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp earlier in the week.
NBA executives who scouted the camp voted after that two-day event, and Cook was one of 11 players who was moved into the combine. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Iowa State’s Lindell Wigginton were among those who didn’t advance. Another Cyclone, guard Marial Shayok, did.
Disappointment at not originally getting a combine invite after making himself an early-entry candidate for the NBA draft after his junior season, Cook said, “wasn’t even for a couple hours, honestly. Once I realized I’d be here playing the same game in front of most of the same people, I didn’t see too much difference between the two.”
Cook made 10 of 11 shots in two games at the G League Camp.
“I just came in and tried to play my butt off,” Cook said.
There’s a lot more to this combine stuff than a couple of scrimmages, with players who are virtual strangers getting thrown together to try to cobble out some coherent basketball. There are the measurements and the agility drills. Most importantly, perhaps, there are individual interviews with teams.
“I’ve probably had 11 or 12 already,” Cook said.
“When he interviews he’s impressive,” said Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery, who was at Quest Multisport Thursday to watch Cook play. “They realize his intellect and his character and his work ethic.”
“They know a lot about you already when you walk into their interview rooms,” Cook said. “Teams want to see what you think you are as a player and a person.”
On the court, he said he tries to show “my effort and intensity, the fact I’m a versatile defender who can guard the pick-and-roll, which is so crucial in today’s game.”
Cook had individual workouts last year for several teams as a draft early-entry candidate before returning to Iowa. He’s had one this spring, with the Atlanta Hawks. After Chicago, he said, is “the world tour. I’ll work out for as many teams as I can count on my hands and feet.”
Cook is on few if any mock draft lists. McCaffery, never one to undersell one of his current or former players, said “I think he’s going to be drafted.
“He’s really helped himself with how he played in the previous camp. I’ve talked to a lot of people already. They said he’s been spectacular. He belongs here.
“He went through the interview process and workout process last year, so they already know him. They watched him have a really good season for us.”
The odds of Cook getting drafted, however, don’t appear great at the moment. Nearly all the projected first-round picks are skipping the scrimmaging and are just here for the interviewing and drills. There are so many good players, including several from other countries who aren’t here but will get picked at the June 20 draft.
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Should Cook not get selected, it’s a matter of latching on to an NBA Summer League team and going from there.
“I think each team will look at him differently,” McCaffery said. “Some see him as a Draymond Green type. Some see him more as a prototype 4-man (power forward). Some see him as having some 3-man (small forward) skills.”
No former Hawkeye is on a current NBA roster. Cook has a world tour to take before he can try to crash the world’s greatest basketball league.
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