Iowa Men's Basketball

Tyler Cook didn't fall against 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall at NBA Combine

Former Hawkeye was 10 inches shorter in 1-on-1 matchup

Iowa’s Tyler Cook defends against UCF’s Tacko Fall (89) during a scrimmage Friday at the NBA Combine at Quest Multisport in Chicago. (Mike Hlas/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Tyler Cook defends against UCF’s Tacko Fall (89) during a scrimmage Friday at the NBA Combine at Quest Multisport in Chicago. (Mike Hlas/The Gazette)

CHICAGO — How’s this for an assignment as you’re a potential NBA player trying to impress a gym-full of the league’s executives:

Guard someone 10 inches taller than you.

That’s what Iowa’s Tyler Cook did here Friday at the NBA Combine, and he didn’t do too bad of a job. Cook, who stands 6-foot-9 wearing shoes, spent most of his 19 minutes in a five-on-five scrimmage contending with 7-7 Tacko Fall of Central Florida.

Cook, typically a forward, did plenty of grabbing, bumping, even occasionally hanging on for dear life. He won a few skirmishes, lost a few.

“Man, it was tough,” Cook said afterward. “It was a lot of fun, though. You’re playing against a guy 7-7, it’s a challenge. I just tried to get into his legs a little bit, just make it as tough as possible for him. I don’t want to let him get anything with two feet in the paint, obviously, because there’s not much you can do at that point.

“He’s a strong dude. He’s every bit of 290 (pounds).”

Cook’s plus-minus (points his team scored while he was on the floor as opposed to the other team) was minus-3. That wasn’t bad, since his team lost by 17 and no other starter was better than minus-9.

Charles Bassey, a 6-10 player from Western Kentucky, didn’t play for Cook’s team Friday, opening up more playing time.

“I was OK with that,” said Cook. “It was more time to put myself on display, going against a 7-7 guy. It was exciting for me because as a competitor I love new challenges.”

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Cook got just four shots in the game, making three for six points. He had seven rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. Fall, who averaged 11 points last season at UCF, had four points and two blocked shots in 19 minutes.

Fall made a lot of waves here by setting Combine records for longest wingspan (8 feet, 2 ¼ inches), standing reach (10-2 ½) and vertical leap (12-3).

“I can change the game in a lot of ways,” he said.

As for Cook, he’ll soon start a slate of individual workouts for NBA teams leading up to the league’s June 20 draft.

“I’m not worried about projections,” he said. “I’m worried about a long-term career in the NBA. I feel like there are things I bring to the table, things that I can contribute to an organization now and long-term that are something every team can use.

“I’ll play with maximum effort, maximum energy, communicate on both ends and play defense.”

Iowa State senior guard Marial Shayok played on Fall’s team here. Shayok had 11 points in 19 minutes Friday, popping in 3 of 6 3-pointers. He also had two assists and blocked a shot.

Shayok said he’ll go to Philadelphia Monday and Charlotte Tuesday for workouts with the NBA teams there.

The All-Big 12 player said his most-appealing attributes to NBA teams are “the ability to make shots, to make open shots, just play hard as hell and really play every position to the best of my ability.”

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Shayok said his length, and “the ability to guard 1 to 3” work in his favor because “there’s so much switching in the NBA right now, I’ve got to use my length to my advantage.”

Iowa State freshman guard Talen Horton-Tucker was a combine invitee, but was here just for the measurements, drills, and individual interviews with teams, not the scrimmages.

The Ames Tribune reported Wednesday that Horton-Tucker pleaded guilty to theft in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, for $15.93 of unscanned items at Ames’ Walmart in February.

Asked about it here Friday, Horton-Tucker said “Me and my agents, we just chose not to talk about it right now. “

After a few questions on the matter and basic no-comment comments, he said “Can we not talk about that, though?” and proceeded to answer basketball-related questions.

Asked if there were any circumstance in which he’d return to Iowa State for his sophomore season, he immediately replied “I’m staying in the draft.”

Horton-Tucker is projected as a first-round pick in several publications’ NBA mock drafts.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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