By Quinn Cook, as told to Alex Busch
My name is Quinn Cook and this is my NBA journey…
At a very young age I told myself I would make it to the NBA.
I was the biggest NBA fan. I used to collect trading cards, play NBA Live and I would even watch VCR highlights from NBA games.
But I wasn’t always the best, or the biggest guy. I was small for my age. I have always been the underdog and continue to be to this day. That’s why I fell in love with Allen Iverson and his game when I was younger. Watching him and watching Kobe, man I loved to watch them play ball.
Coming from the D.C. area, it’s a hotbed for basketball talent. I was lucky to have guys that have been really successful from my area — they were all big influences to me. Watching them succeed in college and into the pros was incredible. But it was in seventh grade when I realized I could make this dream come true — when I started to get recruited by colleges around the country.
I picked Duke. I wanted to learn from Coach K and be a part of that brotherhood. But being at Duke also taught me how to be a pro. Every game you play is highly watched, everybody is giving you their best shot. There were no days off for us. Everybody you face is a great player and I thought Duke helped me learn that.
But after being injured during my senior year of high school gave me a little late start, and we didn’t have the success we wanted as a team that season. I wanted to get better every single day, but I definitely didn’t play how I was hoping to during my first year.
But it was great having guys around the NBA who I knew, that were always texting me, calling me, and giving me their best advice when I saw them in person. My best friend is Victor Oladipo. I grew up with Kevin Durant. When John Wall and Bradley Beal got to the Wizards they would give me their words of wisdom. Nolan Smith, Michael Beasley, Jeff Green, Jarrett Jack. I had lots of guys on my side that had been there before.
That was very big for me and my mindset. They always made sure when they saw me they’d give me advice and they were always keeping up with me. When you see guys that you admire and look up to giving you advice, that’s the biggest thing getting the respect and confidence.
During my senior year at Duke my teammates and I had set a goal to win a championship, and we worked so hard all season to fulfill it. We locked into one common goal all season, and through the ups and downs of the year we made it into a reality in Indianapolis, and it was the best feeling imaginable. Winning the National Championship at Duke was an unbelievable experience.
Then it was time for me to try to make it to the league. I wasn’t drafted, and I spent my first year in the G League with the Canton Charge. At that point I was trying to be a sponge. I was asking questions, but mostly trying to get better and learn during my rookie year. I dedicated myself to putting in hard work every day and trusting the process throughout the entire year, and my work paid off when I was named the G League Rookie of the Year. I didn’t fully expect that coming into the league, but it was an incredible honor for me.
In 2016, I started the season with the Charge again. I had a successful year so far and was named an All-Star. Arriving into New Orleans, our coach Jerry Stackhouse took the game very seriously. He told us something that sat with me the entire weekend. He said, “this is an audition for us in front of the entire league.” Most people look at the All-Star Game as an exciting and fun event, but we saw it as an opportunity to stand out. Getting that push from coach Stackhouse and thanks to good games from my teammates, we definitely shined that night and I was proud to be named the game MVP.
What he said was true. The next week, I was called up by the Mavericks. I played in a few games and then was sent back down. But a couple weeks later I got another chance, in New Orleans. I finished the season there, and I think my play in that time is what interested the Hawks, and eventually the Warriors, before they signed me to a two-way contract this offseason.
But life is funny sometimes. My best game as a pro, with New Orleans, was against Golden State last year. So when I started with Golden State, a lot of the guys that I didn’t know remembered me from it. It’s always great to have success against the best team in the league, and to be remembered from it was even cooler.
Being here it’s like basketball heaven. Just the way the Warriors prepare is unmatched. Being two-time champs in the past three years, three-straight NBA Finals. Obviously the standard for basketball, the way we prepare, seeing those guys work — KD, Steph, Klay, Draymond, Shawn, Javale, DWest, all of those guys — seeing how they work was an real eye-opener for me.
I started the season in Golden State, so I went on the first road trip and I’ve been around the team. Being around those guys, having them know me. I know Steph. I played against Draymond in college. I grew up with Kevin. So I’m comfortable, and I ask a lot of questions and I observe how they conduct themselves. But I’m still a regular up there, just another one of their brothers. To have that, and to be a part of this team, I’m just totally blessed and thankful.
Seeing how much film we watch, how specific coach Kerr is to specific things on defense, the simple things. Every coach is out there to make the team get better, but it trickles down in the organization to Santa Cruz as well.
Coach Miles, coach Lee, coach Williams, AV, all these guys help us in certain areas. We think we are very gifted offensively, but we want to hang our hat on the defensive end. That all comes down from Golden State and how they work. For the little time that I’ve been here, I’ve just been a sponge. Been preparing and ready to go in if I’m called upon.
I just want to continue to work on my game and really be the best teammate I can be, as well as being the best pro. The basketball takes care of itself if you have the skills. I just want to cherish this situation, always be ready, man.
Wherever it is, and whenever it comes — my time will come.
Quinn Cook led the Canton Charge to the NBA G League Semifinals in his rookie year, being named to the All-G League Third Team and being named G League Rookie of the Year. In his second season, also with the Charge, he led the entire league with 26.0 points per game in 39 games. He earned GATORADE Call-Ups to both the Mavericks and Pelicans in 2017. Cook is currently on a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors this season, playing for the G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors.