Cooks ready to help Wizards after unusual path originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON — Xavier Cooks had just finished leading his Sydney Kings to the National Basketball League (NBL) championship in Australia when it was time to embark on one of the longest flights possible in this world.
Cooks was ready for his next assignment, with the Washington Wizards, where he would realize a lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. Still sore from a full season’s grind, he flew roughly 20 hours to join his new team all the way across the globe.
“I played the Grand Final, then I got on a plane the next morning. That plane ride, I was stiff the whole time,” Cooks said.
With a nine-hour time difference and no practices to learn the Wizards’ plays, Cooks made his NBA debut on Saturday night, ironically, against the Sacramento Kings. He became the fifth-oldest player to make their debut in a Wizards/Bullets uniform at 27 years and 211 days old.
Before Cooks became a star in Australia, winning the NBL’s MVP award, he played at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. After graduating, he spent some time with the Warriors in the 2018 Summer League. That’s where he crossed paths with Kendrick Nunn, the only Wizards teammate he knew before signing.
Cooks spent one season playing in Germany before going to Australia. That’s where he matured as a basketball player and readied himself for the NBA.
“Mostly just confidence and believing in myself,” Cooks said of what he gained in the NBL. “I did my first Summer League coming out of college and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready.”
Cooks believes his game currently shows signs of each stop he’s made along the way. In Europe, he grew accustomed to physical basketball. The NBL, meanwhile, is a fast league, which allowed Cooks to speed up his game.
The finished product is a player head coach Wes Unseld Jr. believes can help the Wizards in both the short-term this season and beyond, as he’s signed through 2023-24.
“Another guy with size and athleticism. He’s got the versatility, I think, to defend multiple positions,” Unseld Jr. explained. “He has energy, a lot…
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Author : NBC Sports Washington
Publish date : 2023-03-19 17:20:00
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