Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dominic Cheek: Meet Lenny Cooke

Whenever I think of ill advised decisions to turn pro, I immediately think back to Lenny Cooke, a player who shares many parallels with Dominic Cheek. Both Cheek and Cooke were six foot six blue chip recruit wing players from Northern New Jersey. At the 2001 ABCD Camp, Cooke made LeBron James look human. Like Cheek, he could have gone to whatever college he wanted. Cooke took the road less traveled and declared for the 2002 NBA Draft, but went undrafted, and never played in a single NBA game. After an itinerant career in the US and abroad, Lenny Cooke is out of basketball entirely a mere ten years after he made that fateful decision.

My greatest fear is that Cheek could make the same mistake. Both players have huge amounts of talent, but they did not have the requisite size or perimeter game to give them any leeway. If you're six foot six and expect to play in the NBA, you had better have at least one special area of skill, and neither Cheek nor Cooke had those, so they were just thrown into a group of 100 similar players who are already in the league. If you're seven feet tall, you can get away with being less skilled, but the fact is that Dominic Cheek is not unique in any way, and that's the problem.

Cheek is making a mistake, and I hope it doesn't ruin his life like it did to Lenny Cooke.

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