Cook Visits Thunder Youth Basketball Camp

He was only a few days removed from the end of the 2011-2012 season, but on Tuesday afternoon Thunder guard Daequan Cook was already working up a sweat.

Before heading out of town for a bit for a brief summer break, Cook took the time to stop by the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp at Mid-American Christian University. The afternoon started off with a question and answer session with the 100-plus 5-to-14 year olds who were in attendance, then the campers broke up into a number of different basketball drill stations that Cook helped guide them through.

“I hadn’t really had the opportunity to be around the camps, around the kids,” Cook said. “So it’s a quality time to come out and be a part of the camp before I left town.”

This was the fourth out of nine summer camps that the Thunder will put on this year, and Mid-American was proud to host the camp for a second straight year. Even the University’s administration stopped by to see how the Thunder took over the gymnasium and made an impact on the budding basketball players. Dr. Eric Anthony Joseph, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Mid-American, was thrilled to have Cook in attendance, but also for what the Thunder’s presence meant to his university.

“This is in the theme of building something bigger and better,” Joseph said. “The Thunder had a great season and they were great for the community. This is just awesome…They’ve been involved in the community here in South Oklahoma City and we wanted to put something together so that we can build community engagement with the surrounding community. So we said, what about a camp?”

With over 100 campers at six different baskets, Cook needed some help with teaching the kids. One of those helpful coaches that helps run the camp is senior shooting guard at Fresno Pacific University, Ricky Vick. Vick is originally from Edmond and mostly helps with the shooting station during the Thunder camps to help impart his wisdom. It was a great day for Vick to have Cook, a fellow shooting guard, there to help him out and entertain the kids.

“That was fun, the kids were trying to get me and him to have a shooting contest,” Vick said. “I tried to make it come out as even as possible so we’re both still on the pedestal for our kids.”

Cook and Vick’s abbreviated shooting display was a treat for the kids at the shooting station, but it was Cook’s attention to the campers in the passing, dribbling, defensive, free throw and layup drills that was most remarkable. Cook, however, laughed and said that his favorite part of the day was the four-on-four drill where he was playfully goaltending and cheating to make sure that every kid on the floor got shot opportunities.

“I like to have a good time, the kids also like to have a good time,” Cook said. “They don’t get the opportunity to be around us. So sometimes we just want to show our different personalities. I don’t want them to think we’re always serious, we all love to have fun too.”

The 25-year old Dayton, Ohio native who attended Ohio State also made the extra effort to work one-on-one against a 13-year old camper named Trevor, going at him in a back-and-forth ball-handling session. It was fun fodder for the other campers and parents in attendance to see a skilled youngster try his hand against a NBA player, and an even more exhilarating moment for Trevor himself.

“It was awesome, an amazing feeling,” Trevor said. “Knowing that he can play really well and you have a chance to actually play with Daequan is amazing.”

After a 66-game condensed regular season and a nearly two-month-long Playoff run, it would have been normal for an NBA player like Cook to want to relax, stay in the house and get away from it all for a while. It was remarkable to see Cook interacting and getting a good run in with the kids, exerting both physical and mental energy to entertain the campers. The connection between Oklahomans and the Thunder, Cook explained, is the reason he wanted to come out and show the kids how much he cares.

“This community, this city, this state supports the Thunder so much,” Cook said. “It’s only right for us to come out and support them as well by doing these camps. We find that very important for us as an organization to come back out here and support the fans that support us.”