Cook returns to court for Oak Hill

By Mark Giannotto
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, October 22, 2010; 4:16 PM

ROANOKE, VA. - Even if Quinn Cook, the All-Met Boys' Basketball Player of the Year this past season at DeMatha, wanted to have a cell phone these days, it wouldn't be possible. To begin with, they aren't allowed at Oak Hill Academy, the school he transferred to after leading the Stags to WCAC and City titles as a junior.

But more importantly, Cook says there's no reception in Mouth of Wilson, Va., the small town just above the North Carolina border in the Appalachian Mountains where he now lives.

"No internet, no TV, no cell phone," Cook said. "It's a big adjustment."

Thursday night, though, a part of his life returned to normal. For the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Sept. 3, Cook played extensively in an actual game when Oak Hill took on Hargrave Military Academy in a scrimmage that featured more than a dozen Division-I prospects.

Cook played about 25 minutes during the 40-minute game which Hargrave won, 105-78, at Fleming High. He shot 4-for-8 from the field and finished with nine points, four rebounds and two assists. It was Cook's first live action since injuring his knee at an all-star game in Venice Beach, Calif., in late August.

"My knee is physically fine. It's just all about trusting my knee and having confidence," said Cook, although he appeared to be favoring the injured right leg at times. Afterwards the 6-1 point guard declared his knee "80, 85 percent" healthy right now.

Cook wasn't in the starting lineup and was wearing a large felt knee brace during the game. Upon entering the contest seven minutes in, he appeared cautious and barely nicked the front of the rim on his first shot, a three-point attempt. He struggled to consistently drive past Hargrave point guard Marquis Rankin, a Virginia Tech recruit.

"At first I just wanted to get my confidence back, just see how I could run and cut with my leg," said Cook, who is rated as the No. 34 prospect in the country by ESPN. "And just adjust with the team because I haven't really been playing with the team."

Cook improved after halftime, hitting a three-pointer and dishing out two assists. He also had a pretty layup off a spin move, his best basket of the night.

Oak Hill Coach Steve Smith said Cook has yet to make it through a full practice, but wanted to play in the highly anticipated exhibition. Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg, Missouri Coach Mike Anderson, as well as assistant coaches from North Carolina, Virginia, Xavier and UTEP were in the crowd of about 1,000.

"He did all right; he's probably a little disappointed," Smith said. "A lot of it is mental, too. His knee has rehabbed pretty well, he's pretty healthy. But actually getting out here and playing again, it's been a while. ... He hobbled around a little bit, favored his knee, but that's to be expected. He'll get better."

As for Cook's college decision, he recently narrowed his list to three schools: Duke, Villanova and UCLA. He declined to name a favorite, but said he would make a decision "some time in the next couple weeks."

For now, he's simply focusing on more rehab and getting used to his new rural surroundings.

"It's a sacrifice you gotta make," Cook said. "All your focus is really on basketball and books. I'm happy that I'm at Oak Hill, just growing mentally. I'm just trying to work hard."

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