A week after it was originally reported, it's now official: Tyler Cook is leaving Iowa and entering the 2019 NBA 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.
We've seen several players test the NBA Draft process in recent years, but they've always opted to return to Iowa and play out their eligibility. In fact, even as the overall trend in college basketball has moved towards players leaving earlier and earlier, that trend has largely avoided Iowa hoops. Tyler Cook is, to the best of my knowledge, the first Iowa player to actually enter the NBA Draft with eligibility remaining since Ricky Davis way back in 1998. So that's been a while.
A few players from the Fran McCaffery Era have even heard their names called during the draft (Roy Devyn Marble in 2014, Aaron White in 2015) -- will Cook be the third? We certainly hope so, although he'll likely need a strong showing in the pre-draft combine to do so. He hasn't appeared in many mock drafts and questions persist about his shooting ability and his ball-handling.
That said, we wish Cook the best of luck in his next step. Hopefully that's in the NBA, but if it's the G-League or somewhere overseas, so be it. He was one of the most exciting Iowa basketball players of the last decade and his arena-shaking dunks were a thrill to behold. Good luck, Tyler.