IOWA CITY — Iowa basketball junior forward Tyler Cook will be an early entry for the 2019 NBA Draft, with the intention of remaining in the draft and not returning to school for his senior season.
“After weighing my options both last year and now, my family and I, along with the help of my coaches, have decided to enter the 2019 NBA Draft and hire an agent,” Cook wrote in a statement posted to social media. “This has been my lifelong dream. I am excited and ready to take on the challenge of making these dreams come to fruition. I want to thank each and every person who has supported me throughout my time at the University of Iowa.”
Cook was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by league media and a third-team pick by the conference’s coaches this season, in which he averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds. He averaged 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds over his career. He played in 93 games, starting all but one.
“We fully support Tyler’s decision to pursue his professional goals,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a release. “It has been an honor to coach Tyler the past three years and watch him develop both as a player and person. We are thankful for Tyler’s significant contributions that he has made to our basketball program. My staff and I look forward to supporting Tyler in the next steps of his journey.”
Cook came to Iowa as one of the most-touted recruits in Fran McCaffery’s time as Iowa’s coach. Cook was a four-star player out of St. Louis. He and current Boston Celtic Jayson Tatum helped Chaminade High to a Missouri high school state championship.
He averaged 12.3 points as a freshman and was on the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team, then averaged 15.3 points as a sophomore. He was an NBA early-entry a year ago and worked out for several of the league’s teams, but never signed with an agent and opted to return to Iowa for another season. The Hawkeyes went 23-12.
“What a ride! These past three years have been arguably the most important of my life,” Cook wrote in Friday’s statement. “Going through what we did as a team allowed me to learn more than I can put into words. This year my teammates and coaches challenged each other to simply be better, and we did that. Although we feel we could have been playing longer, we achieved our goal of getting this program back to the NCAA Tournament. I’m honored that I was able to be a part of that.”
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Iowa won’t be without frontcourt depth next season, with junior-to-be Luka Garza (13.1 points this season), senior-to-be Ryan Kriener, fourth-year junior Cordell Pemsl and third-year sophomore Jack Nunge.
After Iowa lost to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Cook was noncommittal about his plans. He did say this about the Hawkeyes: “If we work even half as hard as we did last April, then the sky’s the limit for this group.”
Cook joins Nicholas Baer (graduating) and junior guard Maishe Dailey (transferring) as players who won’t be back for Iowa next season. Freshman Joe Wieskamp declared for the NBA Draft Thursday but is not hiring an agent.
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