New number represents Tyler Cook’s growth

Tyler Cook has a new number, and he expects to grow his game and continue to dominate.


Katina Zentz

Iowa forward Tyler Cook poses for a portrait during Iowa men’s basketball Media Day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018. The team’s first game will be against Guilford College on Nov. 4.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

When Tyler Cook dunks on opponents this season, he won’t be wearing the black and gold No. 5 that he sported the past two years.

Instead, he’ll have a big No. 25 on his back, and it has an important meaning to Cook.

“5 in the Bible, it means grace, it’s a symbol of grace,” Cook said. “On top of that, I’ve always wanted to wear No. 25, but it was taken by Dom [Uhl] when I got here and when it opened up, I thought about changing my number to 25, but I wanted it to mean something… Five-times-five is 25, which is a symbol in the Bible for grace multiplied. It’s kind of a symbol of personal growth off the court in terms of my faith, in terms of as a young man, and also in terms of what I expect from myself, my teammates, and from the man above for this year.”

Cook has certainly grown since he stepped on the campus of Iowa following his career at Chaminade College Preparatory in St. Louis.

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He averaged 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1 assist per game on his way to making the Big Ten All-Freshman team his first year before raising those marks to 15.3 points, 6.8rebounds, and 1.8 assists a game his sophomore season in 2017-18.

Now, after considering leaving for the NBA Draft, Cook finds himself back in Iowa City looking for more.

Cook feels more responsibility this year. He has a niece now, he said, and he hopes to get to the point where he can provide for his brother and his parents as well.

“I feel great, I just feel like maturity-wise, in terms of off the court, taking care of myself, being responsible for things I got to take care of,” Cook said. “I just feel like personal growth is needed for that and also for this team. I know I needed to come back a better person, a better man, and a better leader. And I’m still trying to do so. I haven’t by any means reached where I want to be yet.”

On the court, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said Cook can guard multiple positions and he wants him to stay engaged defensively and make his presence known by blocking shots. Cook has done that so far, the Hawkeye head man said.

The team has been focused on making improvements on defense, and Cook has been putting in work on his own as well.

“He had a great summer,” McCaffery said. “Really putting the time in on his own, whether it be getting in early for lifts or staying late for shooting or coming in on off-days. He’s just a guy that really puts the time in, so you like to see him enjoy the benefit of that hard work and be essentially more productive.”

For now, Cook will continue to work, saying he would tell his younger self to work harder if he could have given himself advice.

“I think a lot of guys would attest to this: coming into college as a high schooler, you think you’re working hard, you think you’re doing something, but you’re really not whatsoever,” Cook said. “That’s the beauty of it, the beauty of growing up both personally and as a basketball player. You kind of find new levels of yourself.”