DeMatha's star point guard Quinn Cook finds sanctuary on the basketball court
Friday, March 5, 2010
Quinn Cook's basketball itinerary is nailed down. The DeMatha junior star guard does not need to look at a calendar to recite his plans that begin with Sunday's semifinals against St. John's in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament. Then he will compete in the spring travel-team season, with games in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and North Carolina, among other places. Shortly after school concludes, he heads out to play on the USA Basketball under-17 national team.
Once he returns from trips to San Antonio, Lithuania and then the inaugural FIBA Under-17 World Championships in Germany, Cook plans to immediately rejoin his travel team, D.C. Assault.
"I want to say we get back from Germany around July 14, so I'll get to go to [Las] Vegas, West Virginia and L.A., hopefully," Cook said. "I don't have to, but I like playing with my team."
Less certain is where Cook, 16, will head after he graduates from DeMatha. The number of suitors vying for the 6-foot point guard's skills at the college level seems to be growing, with national powers such as Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina joining a list that also includes Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
"I have a pretty long list right now," Cook said, adding that he hopes to take an unofficial visit to Arizona later this month.
It didn't take long for Cook to excel on the basketball court. He first played on an organized team at age 3, according to his mother, Janet Cook. By age 5, Quinn said, he had an idea that he was better than his peers. By the time he was 9 he was playing on travel teams.
"He played baseball and football, too, he was just an athlete," Janet Cook said. "But his gift truly is basketball. That's where he finds his peace and joy."
Cook has a smooth jump shot, handles the ball well, can get to the basket and knows how to run a team. Exceptional poise is a key part of his game, whether it is on the fast break or in a half-court setting.
But no matter how well he does -- and so far this season, he's generally off the charts, averaging 19.8 points, 5.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds for a top-ranked, 27-3 team -- Cook copes with a void. The person he was closest to, whom he remembers before, during and after games, has not watched Cook play in person since his freshman year at the Hyattsville school.
Ted Cook, Quinn's father, died of cardiac arrest during an operation in March 2008 at age 48. Quinn said he still talks to his father every day. During pregame warmups, he wears a shirt commemorating Ted's life and he often has a framed photo of him and his father in his gym bag.
"I was about 12 years old and we're sitting on a pickup truck," Cook said. "I've got a basketball in my hand and he has his Lakers hat on."
Ted was his biggest fan and supporter, and when he passed away, DeMatha Coach Mike Jones worried how Quinn would fare without his father to lean on. Would he still be able to focus and excel at basketball?