Lost in the Shuffle, Can Quinn Cook Lead Duke Back to Prominence?

Mark Dolejs-US PRESSWIRE

When you think of the 2012-13 Duke Blue Devils, the first names to come to your mind are probably seniors Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Dig a little bit deeper and you probably come up with Ryan Kelly, maybe Tyler Thornton, and for the recruiting geeks (like myself) Amile Jefferson and Rasheed Sulaimon.

But what about sophomore guard Quinn Cook?

Lost in the shuffle in what was a deep (yet not overly proficient) backcourt last season, Cook spent the better part of the year on the Duke bench. A 2011 McDonald’s All-American, Cook came to Durham with lingering knee injuries from the summer before his senior year of high school, and sitting behind Curry, Andre Dawkins, and fellow freshman Austin Rivers, the D.C. native just never became a part of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s rotation.

Cook showed why he was a four-star recruit out of Oak Hill Academy towards the end of the non-conference schedule, where he strung together 22 points, 17 assists, and 0 turnovers in 45 combined minutes against Western Michigan and Pennsylvania. In what seemed to be the beginning of a bright career, Cook then re-tweaked his knee a few games later against Clemson. From that point on, the lows seemed to heavily outweigh the highs, and Cook became just another freshman guard riding the pine.

With Dawkins and Rivers now out of his way, and his knee finally back around 100%, Cook is bound for a breakout season. Between working out with Portland Trailblazers guard (and former Duke great) Nolan Smith, who has been Cook’s mentor for over a decade, and being named to the All-Cup Team for the East Coast All-Stars at the Four Nations Cup (where he averaged an impressive 22 points and 4 rebounds per game) this past summer, Cook is putting all the pieces together and getting ready to lead a slept on Duke team back to prominence in the ACC.

Cook was joined on the East Coast All-Stars by Duke teammate Marshall Plumlee, as well as Maryland’s Nick Faust, Iowa’s Zach McCabe, West Virginia’s Juwan Staten, and a number of Division II and III players. According to SLAM magazine, the highlight of the tournament was when Cook led the squad to a 129-124 double-overtime thriller over former Villanova star Corey Fisher’s Republic of Georgia team, in which Cook dropped 29 points including a buzzer-beating floater to force the second overtime.

Cook was the unquestioned leader of the East Coast All-Stars, and many, including the Blue Devils official website, expect him to be the same for Duke this season. There isn’t a more heralded point guard on the Duke roster, and with running an offense being his strong point, he should be able to get looks for the teams three best scorers, Curry, (Mason) Plumlee, and Kelly. He has both the skillset and mindset to be a leader, and as long as he can stay healthy, you should expect big things out of the sophomore guard in 2013.

For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth

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