Tyler Cook will be back next year, which is good news for Iowa fans and bad news for rims in Big Ten arenas. But he's going to look a little different while he continues his Dunk Domination Tour of the league -- he's switching jersey numbers. Cook hinted at it with a tweet on Wednesday night:
— Tyler Cook (@iamtc25) May 31, 2018
And he's since confirmed it by changing his Twitter handle from @iamtc5 to @iamtc25 and in comments to the media yesterday:
Tyler Cook says he is indeed changing jersey # to 25.
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) May 31, 2018
#25 was worn by Dom Uhl the last few years, but with his departure it's now available for another player to use. But why this particular number for Cook? He's staying mum for now:
Tyler Cook didn't want to get into specifics but said he had a legit professional opportunity that made it a tough decision. Also didn't want to say why he was changing his jersey number.
— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) May 31, 2018
...which honestly just kind of makes us more curious! Naturally, we have a few theories.
1) #21 is retired at Iowa.
My first thought was that maybe #25 was Cook's number in high school and he was switching back to that now. But that's not the case -- Cook wore #21 at Chaminade in St. Louis.
But #21 is not available to Cook at Iowa -- it's retired in honor of Carl Cain. Cain isn't one of the more well-known figures in Iowa hoops lore, but he was very good -- he was all-Big Ten and first team all-America in 1956 for the Iowa team that finished as national runner-up to Bill Russell's title-winning University of San Francisco squad. Cain was also part of the U.S. national team at the 1956 Olympics.
2) It's an Ed Horton tribute.
#25 doesn't have the most storied history at Iowa -- before Dom Uhl used it recently, Carlton Reed was one of the most recent players* to wear it and you probably haven't heard of many of the guys who've worn it (Herbert Thompson, Tom Chapman Jr., Dave Gunther, Andrew Hankins) in the past. But there is one player who wore #25 at Iowa that you might be familiar with: Ed Horton. Horton wore #25 from 86-89 and was a 6-8 forward on those teams, which made the NCAA Tournament every year he was there. Horton's best year was as a senior in 89, when he averaged 18.3 ppg on 55% shooting and earned all-Big Ten honors. A season like that out of Cook in 2018-19 would be very nice indeed.
*EDIT: I am chastened to admit that I forgot Eric May, who also wore #25 and was a prolific dunker. For shame!
3) It's an Al Jefferson tribute.
To be honest, #25 doesn't have the most storied history at the professional level, either. Gail Goodrich is probably the best NBA/ABA player to ever wear the number, but I figure Cook isn't homaging a guy who played 20 years before Cook was even born. But with all due respect to the immortal Timofey Mozgov and Erick Dampier, Al Jefferson is probably the best player to wear #25 in the NBA lately. Big Al has carved out a 14-year NBA career (and counting!), highlighted by a few years when he averaged a 20-10 double double with the Timberwolves in 08-09. Plus, like Cook, Big Al was a low-post player and he had plenty of skills when it came to scoring down low; Cook could do a whole lot worse than stealing a few of those tricks.
4) It's an Akrum Wadley tribute.
Maybe we're looking at the wrong sport in terms of tributes. Iowa just had another player who wore #25 and was a sensational talent and produced a slew of fantastic highlights: Akrum Wadley, you might remember him? Wadley's taking his talents to the NFL now, but that just means there's a void for another Iowa player to produce some stunning highlights while wearing #25. And, hey, if Cook wants to bust out a spin move or two before dunking on some poor dude's head, well, we sure won't say no to that.
5) 25 is a statement of purpose: it's the ppg Cook intends to average this season.
Dream big, right? Cook averaged 12.3 ppg as a freshman and boosted that to 15.3 ppg last year, but he's coming back to produce his best season yet in black and gold, so why not aim for the moon? Realistically, 25 ppg is an absurd total for college -- only three players in the country averaged 25 ppg or more last year and just two players did it in each of the preceding years. All of the players who did it were capable (or better) three-point shooters as well. And while Cook intends to work on his shooting range, he's probably not going to turn into the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki by November. But still: there's no shame in dreaming big.
6) Or maybe 25 is a statement of team purpose: it's how many wins Iowa will have.
Iowa had just 14 wins last year (sigh), but Cook and the rest of the Iowa team are clearly motivated to turn things around and produce a much better season this year. A 25-win season would certainly be one hell of a turnaround. 25 wins would tie the most wins Iowa has had during Fran's tenure (they won 25 in 2012-13 on the back of a deep NIT run). It would also likely mean Iowa would finally make it back to the NCAA Tournament, which would be a very welcome return.
7) 25 is two more than 23.
There's a (possibly apocryphal) story that claims that the reason Kobe Bryant chose to wear #24 after wearing #8 for the early part of his career was because 24 was one more than 23 and he wanted to one-up a certain famous wearer of #23 (coughJordancough). Well, 24 is one more than 23 but 25 is two more than 23 and 2 > 1. It's just math, folks.
8) 25 is 5 x 5.
Speaking of math... 25 is literally five times more than five. So obviously Cook is trying to tell us that he's going to be five times better than he was as a freshman and sophomore. Again, it's just simple math, folks. The numbers don't lie.
9) The numerology of 25.
According to numerology (a totally legitimate science, thank you very much), 25 denotes wisdom and curiosity. Cook displayed curiosity about the NBA and his draft potential but he showed wisdom in returning to Iowa for another season, right? Right? A discipline as well-respected as numerology could hardly steer us wrong.
10) He's just a really big Adele fan.
Who isn't, though? Maybe he thinks "Hello" was a straight banger. 25 was Adele's most recent album; it won seven Grammys and has sold 22 million (!) copies worldwide to date.
So there you have it: 10 theories about why Tyler Cook is switching his number from #5 to #25. Surely at least one of them explains his decision. Case closed.