Quinn Cook is starting to really turn some heads for Duke.
The sophomore point guard has settled into the role very nicely for Mike Krzyzewski, with solid performances against VCU and Louisville in the Battle 4 Atlantis (where he was the MVP of the Bahamas tournament) and Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
This is quite the reversal from Quinn’s disappointing freshman season, when he was injured and struggled to find quality playing time. So which version of Cook is more indicative of the player Duke fans will be seeing for the rest of this season and beyond?
Even though we’ve seen just a short sample, it’s looking more and more like Cook is on his way to becoming Coach K’s next great point guard. So far this season, Cook has looked very comfortable running Duke’s offense and has had great games against tough competition.
That’s a very encouraging sign for Coach K and the Cameron Crazies. Cook has played against a VCU team that punishes guards defensively, a Louisville team expected to contend for a national title and arguably the nation’s best defensive point guard in Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.
And Cook hasn’t blinked.
He was in control against Ohio State, constantly finding great looks for teammates like Ryan Kelly, Rasheed Sulaimon and Mason Plumlee. Cook put up 15 points against Louisville in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis and had nine points and nine assists in 39 minutes of action against VCU.
Cook’s confidence and toughness has been on display against elite competition so far in the young 2012-13 season. It’s a toughness he has certainly developed through a natural—albeit very unfortunate—bond with former Duke guard, national champion and current Portland Trail Blazer Nolan Smith.
Both Cook and Smith lost their fathers to untimely deaths way too early in their respective lives. Sports Illustrated ran a great feature article this past summer highlighting the brother-like relationship between Cook and Smith. Surely, Smith has been giving Cook advice on how to conduct himself through the grueling life that is a Duke basketball player.
So far, that advice is paying off big time for Cook and Duke. It’s looking more and more like Cook’s underwhelming freshman campaign was merely an aberration.
The real Quinn Cook is turning heads for the better and will keep doing so as long as he has big brother Nolan Smith in his corner.