IOWA CITY, Iowa — With one tweet, and 32 words, Tyler Cook calmed the fears of thousands of Iowa fans about transfer rumors.
“I have no desire to transfer to Missouri,” Cook tweeted last Friday. “I have nothing but love and respect for that program and the people there, but going to Mizzou was never the plan. God Bless.”
But here’s the thing: Cook shooting down the Missouri rumors once and for all isn’t the end of the speculation about Cook leaving. It’s really just the beginning.
I have no desire to transfer to Missouri. I have nothing but love and respect for that program and the people there, but going to Mizzou was never the plan. God Bless
— Tyler Cook (@iamtc5) March 2, 2018
The saga of Cook’s future at Iowa is a lot like a UFC fight. Iowa won the first round. But more rounds are coming and they’ll be tougher than what just went down.
The Cook and Missouri rumors were hard to ignore on the internet in the last month, a lot like a pending winter storm. Only this one never came. The forecasters had it wrong. Cook isn’t trading in one black and gold jersey for another.
In fact, he won’t be swapping out college jerseys at all. But his return is no guarantee.
Cook is eyeing an NBA career. This isn’t new news. He has talked about the league since arriving on campus.
And with good reason. He’s a former 4-star top-75 recruit. He is all about his future and transforming himself into a professional.
It’s why he spent this past offseason watching LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and John Wall. He wanted to be more than just an offensive threat around the basket.
“I knew going into the offseason … I was going to be a much better shooter,” Cook told Land of 10 last October. “I knew I was going to be a much better passer. Just seeing when those guys decided to take their shot and when those guys decided to look for their teammates was one of the biggest things I was paying attention to.”
Cook isn’t a first-round talent this season. He’s not included in most mock drafts at all.
But that shouldn’t stop him from declaring. Really, it’s the right move.
The NCAA changed the rules in 2016, giving players with eligibility remaining time to work out with NBA teams and take part in the NBA combine before having to announce if they’re staying in the draft.
This year, prospects have until June 11 to withdraw from the draft.
It can be a great developmental tool and give a player a better idea of how to improve his game (even if he ends up hearing the same things their college coaches say).
It’s why every player with serious NBA aspirations should do it.
The part of this that should give Iowa fans pause isn’t his draft status. It’s where Cook believes his best chance to maximize his NBA future resides.
Cook will do whatever helps him in that regard next season.
If it’s returning to Iowa, great. If it’s the NBA, even better. If it’s traveling the country in the G League, he’ll do it. Heck, playing pro ball in Europe might end up being the best option. Stranger things have happened with basketball prospects — and not just with the Ball family.
Cook oozes talent, especially on the offensive end. He led Iowa in scoring and rebounding this season and is one of the team’s top two players.
He is a burgeoning Big Ten star and only the fifth sophomore ever in program history to score 500 points in a season. Cook finished with 506 points.
Tyler Cook has scored 493 points this yr with at least one game left to play. If he tops the 500 point mark, he will join these Hawkeyes who topped 500 in their sophomore seasons:
Chris Kingsbury (553)
Roy Marble (520)
Acie Earl (520)
Greg Stokes (548)
Ronnie Lester (563)
— Jon Miller (@hawkeyenation) March 1, 2018
It’s a lot easier to envision Iowa rebounding from a disappointing season with him than without him. His future is one of the biggest storylines surrounding the team, and rightfully so.
But Missouri isn’t the end. That requires another tweet. One saying he’s withdrawing his name from pro consideration.