By Jordan Zuniga
After last season’s somewhat disappointing finish, the Hawkeye basketball players have spent the summer focusing on improving.
It is no shock that 12 Iowa basketball players have participated in the Prime Time to keep tuned up for the upcoming season.
The Prime Time regular season ended on July 13 and it’s time to check in on how two of the Hawkeyes did this summer.
Last season, Cook had an extremely successful freshman campaign, putting up a stat line of 12.3 points and 5.3 rebounds.
This summer, he has focused on his offensive game, working on his mid-range shot and post game in order to be more versatile for the upcoming season.
One offensive move that Cook has put a lot of time into this summer is his step-back jumper, hoping it can become one of his go-to moves.
Not only is he focused on versatility but also how he can improve physically. Most athletics programs have strict nutrition plans to keep their players healthy and able to keep up with the rigorous workouts, but Cook he has decided to cut out sugary foods as well as soda from his diet.
His roommates do not even bring them into the apartment.
Aside from watching what he takes in, the work Cook has put in this summer appears to have paid off.
In five Prime Time games, he averaged 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 3 assists and recorded a double-double in four of the five.
“My consistency and knowledge of the game [has improved the most this summer],” Cook said. “I’ve been scoring the ball from all three levels much more efficiently. I can recognize different ways guys are playing me. Also, I’m able to read defenses; overall, I think I’m a much smarter basketball player and more consistent.”
Figuring that Cook will be a big part of the Hawkeye basketball team this winter, Iowa fans should be excited by the hard work the 6-9 forward has put in this summer.
Iowa’s Nicholas Baer dribbles during a Prime Time League basketball game in the Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Baer had 12 rebounds and 30 points. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
At the end of last season, the Big Ten named Baer the Sixth Man of the Year.
The former walk-on is accustomed to needing to prove himself, but that won’t be the case this season; he figures to be a staple in the Hawkeyes’ rotation this season.
Last year, Baer finished the season averaging 7.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game.
If you thought Baer might take this summer lightly, you couldn’t be more wrong; he has worked tirelessly this summer to become a better scorer.
“I saw a huge improvement in Baer since the season ended,” Cook said. “With Pete [Jok] being gone, we’re going to need some more scoring, and Baer has really taken that to heart. Not only is he taking more shots, but he’s making more shots. His bag of tricks has gotten so much larger.”
This summer, Baer has averaged 25.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists; unfortunately, Prime Time does not count steals or blocks, but fear not, Baer has had no shortage of those this summer.
The draw of making it to the NCAA Tournament that has driven him this off-season, he said.
“It’s always been a personal and team goal to make it back to the NCAA Tournament,” Baer said. “I think everybody has to make big strides and improvements, and we’ve really done that collectively as a team.”
Each of the last two seasons, his game has grown, and it seems as if next season, Hawkeye fans will once again see an improved Baer.