Melissa Majchrzak NBAE/Getty Images
Jack Cooley—Rebounding Monster
By Matt Payne, utahjazz.com
Rodney Hood, Danté Exum and Trey Lyles (who’s expected to play tonight) may get the bulk of the summer-league publicity, but another Jazz player is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
That guy is Jack Cooley, a 6-foot-9, 246-pound bowling ball of a forward who had 13 points and 13 rebounds (and six fouls) in 16 minutes Monday night against Boston.
“When you give me the guidelines that I get 10 fouls in a game, my eyes get pretty big when I see that,” Cooley said. “It was exciting to be able to get out there and play a tough game, especially in front of that crowd. I mean jeez, that was pretty fun.
Besides quotes like that, it’s easy to see why fans love Cooley …
He’s built like a tank, and he certainly sets screens like one.
He gives maximum effort at all times.
His hair is old-school fantastic.
And when he gets whistled for planting an opponent on his backside, Cooley doesn’t pretend like he didn’t do it—he just smirks and walks away.
“We’re a pretty physical team during the regular season—we have Rudy, and we have Derrick. I want to keep that up during [summer league],” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game and make sure people don’t come in here and punk us.”
As a member of the NBA D-League’s Idaho Stampede last season, Cooley averaged 16.8 points and 12.4 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game. And on March 13, he scored 27 points and etched his name in the record book with 29 rebounds—a new D-League single-game record.
He also saw limited action in 16 games for the Jazz down the stretch, posting career highs in points (eight), rebounds (six), fouls (four) and minutes (17) in Utah’s season finale against Houston.
Through two summer league games, Cooley’s averaging 9.5 points and 10.5 rebounds, and one thing that stands out about him is that he hits the boards hard—especially when one of his teammates lofts up a shot. Of Cooley’s 21 rebounds this week, more than half (11) have come on the offensive glass.
All in all, Cooley’s a stand-up guy who’s working his tail off to make the team against long odds.
“Man, Cooley. He’s a monster on the boards,” Hood said. “He’s really physical. It’s hard to keep him off the boards. He sets good screens. He’s a great team player—we’re going to need Jack.”