By Adam Hensley
The biggest question surrounding Iowa basketball this offseason was Tyler Cook. The junior forward wrapped up his second season in a Hawkeye uniform, then opted to test the NBA waters this spring, leaving Iowa fans wondering if they’d ever see the high-flying, rim-rattling player suit up again in the Black and Gold.
That question has since been answered; Cook elected to come back to the Hawkeye program for at least one more season.
“It was a hectic spring and summer for me,” he said. “But I almost feel more relaxed when I got [back] here, because I knew it was a place I was comfortable in.”
Communication with Fran McCaffery
Throughout all his travels, workouts, and meetings, Cook said he and head coach Fran McCaffery kept a steady line of communication, speaking numerous times a week.
“We talked probably about twice a week, I would say,” Cook said.
He also noted that his coach had his back, regardless of whether his decision was to make a leap to the next level or return to Iowa City.
“I think Coach did a great job of pretty much letting me know that whatever decision I make, he was 100 percent behind it,” he said. “He’d call me with any feedback that he got from other people.”
Workouts on workouts
With all his offseason activities, Cook said that the workouts themselves were his favorite part. He worked out with Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Brooklyn, Boston, Cleveland, and Denver.
“When you get to the gym, you just start thinking of when you were a kid,” he said. “You dream about things like this, and all of a sudden, you’re working out with four or five other high-level guys for an opportunity to make a roster.”
The workouts didn’t vary too much from team to team, Cook said. He’d go through physical tests, such as vertical jumps and sprints, and then he’d hit the hardwood with other prospects to go three-on-three or one-on-one. The only team that had him workout two-on-two was the Nuggets.
Throughout all of this, one piece of advice stuck out for Cook: Perfect what you’re already good at.
“A lot of times, people try to prove that they can do something that maybe they’ve been criticized for,” he said. “The biggest thing was perfect what you’re good at, own what you do well already, and then after that, begin to expand your game.”
Taking NBA feedback to Carver
Cook said that through all of his work at the NBA level, his goals never changed, but he found more motivation after gaining valuable feedback.
“I definitely feel like I’m a much better player because of it,” he said. “I feel like my work ethic has gone up a lot, I feel like I’ve become a smarter player, and a really smarter person as well, going through that whole process — meeting with different people, and execs, and stuff like that.”
But the advice and critiques don’t stop with just Cook. Not only does he know what he can do to elevate his game, but the pointers are applicable to his teammates as well.
“Coming back in here, I feel like I have so much more that I can work on myself and then share with the other guys as well, in terms of things that other people see that we might not see, or things that we can work on coming from a perspective of somebody else who’s not here.”