In both the AP and Coaches Top 25 polls, the Duke Blue Devils are currently ranked No. 4 in the nation. Receiving the praise for this level of success is coach Mike Krzyzewski, National Player of the Year front-runner Mason Plumlee and sharpshooter Seth Curry.
Lost amidst the hype, however, is the nation's most underappreciated star: point guard Quinn Cook.
As Plumlee and Curry command headlines, Cook has facilitated the nation's 13th-ranked scoring offense. Somehow, he's still managed to go under the radar on a national spectrum.
Fortunately, we at B/R are prepared to pay Quinn the respect he's due.
Cook has been one of the most explosive players in the nation since bursting onto the scene against Florida Gulf Coast on November 18. It was there that Cook put up eight points, nine assists and four rebounds in an 88-67 victory.
From there on out, it has been nothing but flash and excitement.
Although his 42.2 percent shooting from the floor has been a cause for criticism, Cook has established himself as a "primetime performer." The evidence has been in the fact that, the bigger the stage Cook performs on, the better the performances get.
Just don't think he'll save a phenomenal play for another day when tasked with defeating a lesser opponent.
So what is it that makes Cook such an underappreciated commodity? What causes him to be overlooked and, more importantly, why should we know him?
The answer to those questions is simple. When the ball is in his hands, there are few players as exciting to watch.
There are also limited players as difficult to defend.
Plain and simple, Quinn Cook is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the nation. Even if he doesn't garner the headlines, he's the player that makes everything flourish in Durham.
It all starts with his ball-handling skills.
Cook isn't what the nation has come to perceive as your stereotypical Duke Blue Devil. Instead, Cook has the handles to slice-and-dice a defense and the court vision to make a decision off of the bounce.
This is why he's emerged as the go-to playmaker for the nation's No. 4 team.
Cook is as good as any at running in transition. This has enabled Cook to attack the basket and keep opposing defenders on their toes.
From there, Cook is just as much of a threat to finish as he is to facilitate.
The sophomore guard is presently shooting 38.8 percent from the beyond the arc. He may not have the reputation of a Seth Curry, but he's doing so on 3.8 attempts per game.
In other words, Cook can flat out stroke it.
This is yet another reason that he's do dangerous as a passer. Just when you think that he's going to find the open man, he can spot-up and drain it from three.
Just don't think you can predict the latter, as he'll hit you with a highlight-reel assist just as quickly.
Well-Rounded and Lethal
Quinn Cook is a game-changing playmaker. He's also an elite-level facilitator.
The truth of the matter is, the reason for his status as the nation's most underappreciated star cannot be found in either of those areas. It's the fact that he's as well-rounded as any point guard in college basketball.
Just check the numbers when they're all placed together.
Cook is presently averaging 11.5 points, 6.2 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals. Not only are these impressive statistics, but digits that place him in rare company.
Per Sports-Reference.com, Cook is one of five players in the nation to average at least 11.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals simultaneously. Of those players, Cook is the only one to shoot at least 38.0 percent from beyond the arc.
For those wondering, two of the other players to earn that distinction are Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse and Lorenzo Brown of North Carolina State. Two point guards that many view as the cream of the crop.
Cook is in their company.
Big Moments, Big Plays
If you want to establish yourself as an elite late-game performer, you need to step up against the best in the nation. This is how former Duke point guard Kyrie Irving has established his status in the NBA.
Peyton Siva of Louisville and Aaron Craft of Ohio State will testify to the fact that Quinn Cook is following in Irving's footsteps.
In Duke's 76-71 win over then No. 2 Louisville, Cook finished with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds. Cook scored Duke's final eight points to secure that victory.
It was more of the same against Craft and Ohio State.
Duke defeated then No. 4 Ohio State by a score of 73-68. Cook finished that game with 12 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals.
He also scored or assisted 10 of Duke's final 13 points against the Buckeyes. He scored six of the final seven by himself.
When the game is on the line against elite opponents, Cook is the player who steps up to finish. For that reason, he has earned the distinction as an elite clutch performer.
Unfortunately, Cook fails to receive the respect he deserves.
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