The Australian presence remains strong in Europe. As one Aussie leaves German basketball team s.Oliver Wurzburg, another steps right in to take his place.
22 year old forward Xavier Cooks, signed with the club last week to replace Mitch Creek, who opted out of his contract to pursue his NBA dream with the Brooklyn Nets.
The long and athletic Cooks, who went undrafted in this year’s NBA draft, joins a team that only narrowly missed the playoffs in the previous Bundesliga Basketball (BBL) season, finishing ninth.
Cooks journey to professional basketball saw him play four decorated seasons at Winthrop University, where he was awarded All-Big South First Team twice, in 2017 and again in 2018, as well as being crowned the Big South Player of the Year in 2018.
The 203cm Cooks averaged 17.2 points while shooting at an accurate 50.4%, with 8.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists, as well as 2.1 blocks in his senior year. His athleticism, and natural instincts as a rebounder, saw him climb to number one on the list of all-time rebounders for Winthrop. He finished his collegiate career as part of an Australian senior class that may well rank as the best ever from down under.
Following the disappointment of going undrafted, Cooks was signed to play Summer League by the reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. Despite only playing limited minutes, Cooks was able to contribute solid numbers during his time on the court.
"I think the experience has been priceless."
— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) July 10, 2018
Although his Summer League campaign was not able to net him a NBA contact, Cooks’ play style drew attention from across the pond in Europe. With the loss of Mitch Creek, Wurzburg was eager to fill the gap as quickly as possible. Head coach Denis Wucherer and assistant coach Steven Key, who were watching the Summer League closely, were drawn to Cooks’ size and length.
“He does not yet have the physical toughness of Mitch Creek, but is much bigger,” said Wucherer in a translated article released by Wurzburg.
Cooks’ capacity to play multiple positions was another quality that drew the German team’s eye.
“Xavier is a guard in the body of a power forward, with a great combination of length, good ball handling and game understanding that is selfless,” added Wucherer.
Cooks also played a leading role for the Emerging Boomers at the 2017 World University Games hosted by Chinese Taipei. While his side finished 9th, Cooks was second on the team in scoring (12.9), rebounding (8.1), assists (2.8) and steals (1.3) while leading the side in blocked shots (2.4), one again demonstrating his all-round game.
Wurzburg will be hoping their new Australian import’s versatility and contributions well get them into the playoffs, which they so narrowly missed last year.
The new BBL season is scheduled to begin September 29, with Wurzburg playing their first game against semi finalists Brose Bamberg.