Injury not only derailed Xavier Cooks' 2019 FIBA World Cup aspirations, but it also saw him released from his European contract with French side Strasbourg. However there is a silver lining, with the 24-year-old 6'8 forward today announced as the latest addition to the Sydney Kings in the NBL.
Already boasting a loaded roster, Cooks is potentially the icing on the cake for the NBL's benchmark so far this season, signing a multi-year deal.
“Xavier is an outstanding young man with a long, promising career ahead of him for both Australia and the Sydney Kings,” Sydney Kings CEO Chris Pongrass explained in an official release.
“We expect him to help our team this season and be an important part of our roster moving into next season.”
Versatile forward Cooks has underwent successful surgery on his left knee in late August that was injured with the Australian national team during their training camp in Perth.
Cooks, who had been named to the Boomers team of twelve for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, was forced out of contention after suffering a meniscus tear during training camp on 13 August ahead of the Boomers exhibition games against Canada. He was replaced in the team by former Minnesota Timberwolves forward Mitch Creek.
The injury was reportedley expected to set him back three months, so he could be expected to suit up for the Kings in his first game at some stage in December all going well, with no specific date reported in the release.
“It is humbling to have a person and player of Xavier’s calibre eager to join us,” Kings Head Coach Will Weaver outlined, having worked with his latest addition in the Boomers camp this year.
"Like others on our team, he aspires to play at the highest level and we are striving to build an environment that supports and develops players with ambitious goals.”
Cooks, who played the 2018/19 European season with s.Oliver Würzburg in the German Bundesliga, averaged 11.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game across 34 games. He shot the ball at 60.9% from inside the arc, and a just as impressive 45.1% from beyond it.
After being sidelined by injury, Cooks was finally looking forward to getting back on court and preparing for his NBL debut.
“I’m super excited to be joining the Sydney Kings. I’m excited to be part of an organisation that’s very professional” Cooks said.
“I’ve been around the league for a lot of years watching my dad from a distance and I’ve seen the very high standards that the Kings hold themselves to”.
“I’m just hoping to be able to come in and fill in the small pieces. I hustle for the ball, I rebound well, I push the ball in transition, but I think my main strength is my versatility so whatever this team needs me to do I’m going to do it” Cooks shared.
In order to fit Cooks into the roster, promising guard Kuany Kuany has been released.
"It’s a bitter-sweet situation we are often confronted with in professional sport,” Pongrass said.
“We are grateful for the efforts Kuany has contributed toward the great start to this season. His contract will be paid in full and we will support him as he prepares for his next opportunity.”
According to the Kings, Cooks will link with the squad this week.