Foto credit FRAPORT SKYLINERS
It is often that a player will have 1 or 2 things that will stick out most in their career and it it isn’t any different for new Fraport Skyliner Derek Cooke Jr. (206-F/C-1991, college: Wyoming). Especially his ex NCAA school Wyoming won’t forget Feb 11, 2014 where the then junior unleashed a brutal throw down dunk against San Diego State University that reached ESPN Sports Center play of the day. Back then it was current NBA player Larry Nance Jr who supplied the dime. For Cooke the whole scenario was kind of amusing since he usually never got those kind of plays during games, but saw them on a regular basis in practice from Nance jr. ‘He can supply the dunks. He is a very athletic player that plays above the rim. He needs to have that point guard that will see him roll and all he needs to do is it pass up and Derek will do the rest. Fans will love him. He is always smiling and plays with positive energy’, warned ex Fraport Skyliner Tyrone Ellis. The other thing that stands out in his resume is his passport activity as he has been a globe trotter since he turned professional in 2015 and in this season is on the move again as he jumps form Italy to Germany for his second stint of duty. Last season he played 3 games for Brose Bamberg and now starts a new chapter with the Fraport Skyliners where he will have his hands full. Dunks are always nice for the highlight reel and fans, but the first order of business is for the club is to remain in the easyCredit BBL and Derek Cooke Jr. could be an instrumental part of that if he can play his hard nosed game under the boards at both ends of the court.
Derek Cooke Jr. who would like to work with kids one day was born on August 23, 1991 in Washington DC and grew up on Fort Washington. He attended Friendly High School and was playing football loving the Atlanta Falcons and not basketball. He wasn’t a star his senior year and then took a year off and worked 2 jobs at Target and Hollister. He then by chance slipped into basketball as Cloud County Community College head coach Chad Eshbaugh gave him a scholarship. He was able to work on his skills while competing for minutes and then was rewarded with a 3 year division 1 career at the University of Wyoming. There he played a total of 100 NCAA games and was able to improve his scoring and rebounding each season and helped lead the team into the NCAA tournament in 2015 for the first time since 2002. He turned professional in 2015 and since then has played for 12 organizations and played in countries like Greece, Australia, Canada, Belarus winning the league title with Tsmoki-Minsk (Belarus-Premier League) , Israel and Italy. He began the season with Nutribullet Treviso Basket (Italy-Serie A) playing 17 games averaging 7.5ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.1apg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 50.5%, FT: 34.0%. He also had his time in the G-League playing two seasons with the Northern Arizona Suns and with the Raptors 905. He had the privilege to play for ex Fraport Skyliner guard Tyrone Ellis who helped win Frankfurt’s only BBL league title in 2004 and coached him in Arizona. Ellis coached him more than 6 years ago, but still remembers his first impression of him and what he thinks of him when he hears his name. ‘My first impression was that he was a big athlete. He is a great young man. He is very professional and has that big smile. He is a great athlete that is very coachable’, stressed Tyrone Ellis.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber and Tyrone Ellis in Frankfurt in 2005
When one inspects the stats of Derek Cooke who has a game comparable to a Kenneth Faried or Tristan Thompson, he doesn’t necessarily stand out as a scorer, but is a player that does other vital things that helps a team be successful. ‘He does things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. He keeps plays alive. He sets good screens and is a great locker room guy. He does a lot of the dirty work and brings a lot of value to the team’, warned Tyrone Ellis. He will take a lot of pressure of young Dutch 221cm giant Matt Haarms especially rebounding the ball an area where Frankfurt has had difficulty doing this season. He will bring certain special assets to the offense system. ‘He is a big finisher above the rim. He rolls very hard and puts a lot of pressure on the weak side. If you have a shooter and point guard then you will usually always get a dunk or open three’, stated Tyrone Ellis. He has had a long career and one thing that stands out is that he has never averaged a block per game in a season. What kind of a defender is he? ‘He isn’t a shot blocker. He is a good pick and roll defender and is very good at altering shots’, stressed Tyrone Ellis. He is definitely the kind of player that Frankfurt needs right now. He is sprouting with experience and is ready to give his all to a team clinging to life. ‘Derek is a constant positive energy in the locker room. And he is always willing to do the dirty work. If the point guard plays pick and roll then Derek will get guys open and attack the rim’, commented Tyrone Ellis. It may have been a long time since Ellis last worked with Cooke Jr, but the memories will always remain on and off the floor. ‘I loved watching his evolution in the G-League. He came in as a raw talent and then was invited to the Suns camp. It was just great seeing him develop. I will also never forget meeting his family. The excitement the family had to see their son play pro ball was great. You could see that he was a mentor for his younger brothers’, remembered Tyrone Ellis. It will be interesting to see where the journey will go on the court for Derek Cooke Jr. and the Fraport Skyliners. How much he will be able to make an impact in the tough home game on Sunday against the Telekom Baskets Bonn is uncertain. But he will definitely bring energy on the floor and give the fans something to smile about when he unleashes his thunderous dunks. The Fraport Skyliners will definitely be stronger under the basket against Bonn.
Tags : DEREK COOKE JR., FRAPORT SKYLINERS FRANKFURT, GERMAN BASKETBALL