Farewell, thunderous dunks. Tyler Cook is taking his monstrous slams to... well, the NBA Draft process for now. Beyond that is TBD. Per Scott Dochterman of The Athletic, Cook is forgoing his senior season at Iowa to declare for the NBA Draft.
Source tells me Iowa forward Tyler Cook will once again declare for the NBA draft but this time he plans to leave the program.— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) April 4, 2019
Although neither Cook nor the UI athletic department has issued a statement about Cook's plans, Hawkeye Nation's Rob Howe has also confirmed Dochterman's report.
As you probably recall, this is not the first time Cook has declared for the NBA Draft. He did so a year ago, too, after Iowa was eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament, ending their season. As Doc's tweet notes, though, the difference is that this time he doesn't intend to return to Iowa. Last season Cook entered the NBA Draft process to assess his prospects and to receive feedback from professional scouts. This time, it seems, he intends to stay in the draft.
Cook earned All-Big Ten honors this season (second team from the media, third team from the coaches) after averaging 14.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg while making 51% of his shots from the floor. Cook's strong play was a key factor in Iowa's turnaround from last year's dismal results, helping Iowa win nine more games and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they beat Cincinnati in the first round and narrowly lost to Tennessee in overtime in the second round after staging a second half comeback for the ages. Cook leaves Iowa with 1315 points and 619 rebounds in his three years in Iowa City.
As we know from the past few seasons, the NCAA has (wisely) relaxed the rules around players declaring early and getting feedback during the NBA Draft process. Peter Jok took advantage of that opportunity a few years ago and both Cook and Isaiah Moss did so last year. Cook could do the same again this year, but as noted, that doesn't seem to be his intention. It sounds as though he's ready to start his professional basketball journey.
Will that journey be in the NBA? He'll probably need an excellent showing in the pre-draft scouting combines to get a team to take a chance on him in the NBA Draft itself. He hasn't appeared in any mock drafts all season long. As we know from watching him over the last three years, Cook possesses incredible leaping ability, good quickness and strength, and the ability to finish well around the rim. He's also improved his ability as a rebounder each year he's been at Iowa. But in a league that increasingly values spacing, ball-handling, and shooting ability, Cook might be an odd fit. His outside shooting has never developed and his ball-handling is shaky; he led Iowa with 80 turnovers this season (2.5 per game).
Still, we wish Tyler the very best in whatever comes next, whether that's in the NBA, in the G-League, or overseas. It was a thrill to watch him terrorize rims over the last three years and we'll dearly miss seeing that next year.
Thanks for the memories, Tyler, and good luck.