An original native of Brooklyn, New York, Lenny Cooke once had some unheralded potential.
As a high school junior, Cooke averaged 25 points, ten rebounds, two steals and two blocks per game, and was garnering interest from top collegiate programs across the country. He turned 19 in 2001 however, and was ruled ineligible for his senior season. Cooke made the decision to bypass college and enter the 2002 NBA Draft.
Cooke went undrafted.
Now, at the age of 30, Cooke is looking back at the hype that his play once accumulated and how things worked out. However, you may be wondering what the most intriguing aspect of Cooke’s story is? Well, he was once considered a better prospect than LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Yep, that was Lenny Cooke — that was his potential.
Even after going undrafted, Cooke got some looks and opportunities at the professional ranks, but for someone who was once considered one of the premier high school prospects, it’s been a strange path indeed. Cooke was a 6-foot-6 superstar and even shined in the lesser ranks of professional basketball. From the NBDL to the USBL, Cooke had productive seasons, but never to the caliber that was once though — and never in the NBA.
Cooke is considered to be one of the top players that never was. His accomplishments at the high school level speak for themselves, but look at the careers of the aforementioned James, Anthony and Stoudemire — they are clearly incomparable here in 2013.
To learn more about Cooke, his past and his documentary, check out Page 31:
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