Look for more of Quinn Cook on the floor this year. Photo by CHUCK LIDDY—firstname.lastname@example.org
DURHAM—While Mike Krzyzewski, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski were in London prepping for Team USA’s gold medal game, a quartet of current Duke players were playing in a championship game of their own.
Thursday night, Quinn Cook and newcomers Amile Jefferson, Rasheed Sulaimon and Rodney Hood teamed up to play for Dream Works in the championship game of the N.C. Pro-Am summer league last Thursday. Ultimately, the de facto team Duke lost 91-84 to the Banks Law Firm team of Jerry Stackhouse, Quincy Miller, Reggie Bullock and J.T. Terrell (formerly of Wake Forest, now with Southern Cal) among others.
Statistically, none of the Blue Devils were anywhere near Bullock’s level, as the rising junior Tar Heel shot pretty much lights out from beyond the arc, finishing with 31 points, six 3-pointers and MVP honors. By my count, both Cook and Hood finished with 20 points apiece while Jefferson had 12 and Sulaimon five.
“We’re not going to play talent like this in college,” Cook said. This is a great experience for us, all the freshman, Rodney Hood and myself. It’s all beneficial.”
And he’s right. For instance, Stackhouse won’t be guarding the lane the next time Jefferson attempts to drive, thankfully for Jefferson, as the 17-year NBA veteran swatted away several of his shot attempts. In a setting where there’s hip-hop and R&B music playing throughout the game and a PA guy who contributes a running commentary as well as the score (“Rodney Hood is single-handedly raising the free throw percentage of the summer league,” he quipped after Hood made his first two attempts), it’s the experience, not the numbers, that counts.
Cook rarely left the floor, handling point guard duties for Dream Works. He found openings to drive the lane or the baseline to create his own shot, keeping the score competitive in the second half. The 20 points Cook posted Thursday followed a three-game stint overseas at the Four Nations Cup in which he averaged 22 points, well above the 4.4 points per contest he averaged in 11.7 minutes per game last season. That latter number will surely rise this year.
And as far as Jefferson was concerned, he got what he came for out of the Pro-Am.
“I had a lot of fun, and that’s what you come out here for, to work on your game and get better and get a chance to play with some guys that you’re going to play with during the season.”
For Hood, who transferred to Duke this summer from Mississippi State, Thursday’s contest represented the last game that he will play with referees until after this season (“I’m trying my best not to think about that,” he said). In the interim, he’ll head back home to Mississippi for a week, fill up on his grandmother’s cooking, and come back to Durham for the start of school and focus on his body.
All of the Blue Devils, who have been in town since July, will get a free week before the fall semester starts. Before they break, though, they’ll watch Krzyzewski try to lead team USA to gold.
“Oh definitely, definitely got to watch,” Jefferson said with a smile. “I love it. Coach K is great, and for him to be able to coach those great players is going to be amazing, I think he’s going to come back with some great stuff. That’s motivation for us, to see him coaching guys like that. we’re ready to do whatever he says so we can get a win.”