The NBA Development League’s first-ever regular-season game on ESPNU tips off at 7 PM ET on Friday, and college basketball fans will recognize some familiar faces in Portland, Maine.
Tops among those faces is Quinn Cook, a member of the Duke team that took over the NCAA tournament last spring en route to the school’s fifth national championship.
Cook was the senior leader of that squad and its second-leading scorer at 15.3 points per game. But while Jahil Okafor, Justice Winslow and Tyus Jones were first-round talents, Cook faces an uphill battle to stick in the NBA as a ‘tweener guard.
He’s now playing a similar role for the Canton Charge (Cavs affiliate), putting up 18.0 points and 4.7 assists a night as he learns the ins and outs of being a full-time pro point guard.
“The NBA game is a lot different than what he’s used to. The game is faster; you get a lot more exposed defensively because of the rules,” said Charge head coach Jordi Fernandez. “He’s been getting better on the defensive end. He’s a versatile guy because he can play the 1 [point guard] and the 2 [shooting guard] on this level, but in the NBA he’s gotta play the point guard. He’s shooting the ball pretty well for us. I like the kid — he’s got good, positive energy. He comes and works.”
Cook recently detailed his journey to NBADLeague.com, passing through three of the most storied programs in the nation, yet still playing the role of underdog.
"I went to two powerhouse high schools, but I've never had an easy road. When I was a freshman at DeMatha, everybody said I would never play there — I would have to wait till my junior year; that drove me to make varsity and start. Playing at Oak Hill, people said I would never be anything there; I was the first player since @RajonRondo to average 20 and 10. I went to a powerhouse college at Duke. There were a lot of guards there and people told me I would never play there — I would have to transfer. But I got on the court and I became an All-American. And people now, they’re saying that I’m not good enough to play in the @NBA. So I’m going into this D-League process wanting to get better, be a true pro, learn from my coaches and ultimately be a successful NBA point guard. I think when I finally make it and can sit back and think 'I'm an NBA point guard,' I'll really cherish it. But until then, I've gotta keep working like I'm not there." 💭 @qcook323 #ThisIsWhyWePlay #DLeagueShowcase