Bio: 6'9", 255 lbs. (St. Louis, Missouri)
Last Season: 12.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, Big Ten All-Freshman Team Honors
What We Saw Last Season
Outside of a broken finger that cost him seven games in his freshman season, things went about as well as we could have hoped for Tyler Cook last year. He started all but one game that he played in, and he consistently gave Iowa 12 points and five rebounds per game in about 25 minutes on the court every night.
Cook's biggest strength came on offense, where he regularly threw down emphatic slams that energized his team.
In addition to his prolific dunking, Cook showed an advanced back-to-the-basket game for a true freshman, and a real adroitness for finishing in the paint.
He was also outstanding when it came to finishing at the rim and drawing contact.
That being said, he was still a true freshman, meaning there was still plenty for him to improve upon.
While he was terrific when it came to putting the ball through the rim, he had some issues with turnovers and fouls on occasion. Not to mention, he was extremely inconsistent on defense. His defensive rebounding numbers weren't spectacular, and he didn't show much of an ability to block or alter shots until the end of the season.
Yet, while acknowledging that no player is perfect and they can always get better, Tyler Cook's first season in Iowa City was a huge success. His 12.3 points per game ranks as the fourth highest total since the 1992-1993 season for an Iowa freshman. Only Jess Settles, Ricky Davis, and Tyler Smith averaged more points per night as freshmen than Cook did last season. That's pretty damn impressive.
What We Need To See This Season
Most of Cook's improvement needs to come on defense as a sophomore. We already have a feeling that this team will be pretty good on offense again, but the defense is a huge question mark. Cook should be better, but how much improvement can we expect?
The addition of Luka Garza should help, as between he, Cordell Pemsl, and Ryan Kriener, there shouldn't be much need for Cook to play the five spot this season, outside of when Fran wants to go with a smaller lineup. That alone will hopefully help Cook on the defensive side of the ball, as he won't have to guard bigger, more true center types. Additionally, more defensive rebounds and blocks would certainly be a welcome sight from him.
On offense, Cook would benefit from being a more willing passer this season. He should continue to be one of Iowa's top scoring options, but he could cut down on his turnovers and fouls by finding the open man and not trying to do too much when he gets the ball in the post.
Finally, free throw shooting should be a priority for Cook, as a ton of his value comes from drawing fouls. He made just a smidge under 60% last season, and if he can get that closer 70%, he will only be that much better.
Best Case Scenario
Cook absolutely breaks out as a sophomore, averaging somewhere near 18 points and 10 rebounds per game in about 25 minutes. His defense improves quite a bit, but his offense is completely off the charts. He throws down rim-rattling dunks on a nightly basis, while also showing that he can step beyond the arc and knock down the occasional three. With the addition of the three-point shot to his arsenal, Cook is able to play small forward on occasion, giving Fran even more lineup options to play with.
Overall, Cook puts together a Caleb Swanigan-like season, making the First Team All-Big Ten roster and finishing behind Miles Bridges for Big Ten Player of the Year. And while all that is spectacular, it makes for a long offseason of wondering whether or not he will be back for his junior campaign.
Most Likely Scenario
With so much depth on the roster, Cook plays somewhere between 22-25 minutes per game, and averages about 15 points and eight rebounds per game. His defense is better, but still inconsistent at times. However, his offense mostly makes up for it, especially since he cuts down on his turnovers and fouls, while also upping his free throw percentage to the high sixties.
Cook ends up on the Second Team All-Big Ten roster, as his youth makes it easier for voters to overlook him and vote for an upperclassman for First Team honors. The season is an overall success for Cook, and even though he sticks his foot in the NBA draft waters, everyone knows that he is basically a lock to return for his junior season.
so tyler cook did a thing pic.twitter.com/0Hh9gTkC7R— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeek) February 22, 2017
More crazy-eyed staredowns after your thunderous dunks, Tyler.