Cook Aims to Help Thunder On Court, In the Community

It’s already known that the Thunder acquired a player with a knack for long-distance shooting in Daequan Cook; the 23-year-old guard won the Three-Point Shootout during the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend.

But what you might not know about Cook is that he also enjoys being out in the community, so much so that he was the recipient of the NBA’s Community Assist Award for the 2009 offseason.

So it really wasn’t a surprise to know when Cook showed up at a local Boys & Girls Club for a Thunder Youth Basketball Camp on Tuesday afternoon, he hadn’t even been in town for 24 hours.

The Thunder guard, acquired from the Miami Heat on the eve of last month’s NBA Draft, participated in drills, high-fived campers, signed autographs and posed for pictures.

“It’s very important for me,” Cook said of being out in the community. "Playing behind guys like Dwyane (Wade), Udonis (Haslem) and Alonzo Mourning, guys that always gave back to the community, I want to do the same thing not just in my own community, but the community I play in. It’s important because you’ve got a lot of young kids that look up to us and I can answer a lot of questions and also be around some kids who have never been around professional athletes.”

Cook said he’s in town indefinitely to workout with members of the basketball operations staff, learn his way around the city and move into his new home.

“I’m going to be here not really decorating – I’m going to leave that up to my mom – but I’m going to be around just working out and sightseeing and getting a good feel for the city,” Cook said.

After his second season with the Heat, Cook helped the family of a 12-year-old boy who was killed tragically. The boy, DaQuan Sales, was from Cook’s hometown of Dayton, Ohio, and had signed up to attend Cook’s summer basketball camp. But shortly before the camp, Sales was killed in a hit-and-run bicycle accident. Cook heard of the story, offered to pay for the boy’s funeral expenses, invite a few of his friends to the basketball camp and hold a bicycle safety program at Sales’ school, according to an Associated Press story.

Community, teamwork, commitment, resiliency – these words make up the Thunder’s core values, and Cook appears to be onboard with them all.

Shortly after the Thunder acquired Cook, he made it a point to join the team in Orlando for the summer league as a show of support.

“Just show that I’m all-in, 100 percent,” he said.

Asked what is the biggest adjustment he faces, Cook said it was fitting in with the team’s chemistry. He said it should help that he’s known a handful of his new teammates from AAU tournaments. He played with Kevin Durant in the McDonald’s All-American Game and against Byron Mullens on the Ohio AAU and high school circuits.

“You know you’ve got a lot of guys who have been playing together for the last couple of years and for me to come in and play my role, it's just important for me to play the role that’s given to me on this team and not to come in and try to do too much,” he said. “Just do enough to be a part of this team.”

While Cook said he can help the Thunder with his shooting, he’s not limiting himself, which is why he’s been working on playing off the dribble this summer.

“I know I’m a standstill shooter,” he said. “It’s more about expanding my game and getting to the basket. I can shoot free throws real good, so just getting a chance to get to the basket and draw fouls.”

Contact Chris Silva