Where Are They Now: Aaron Cook


Koby Schmer

Aaron Cook finshed his senior year leading the team in points and steals.

Number 10. How can we forget? As a Division I basketball recruit, Aaron Cook will go down in history as one of the best basketball players to ever come out of Westminster. In his senior season, Cook was in the top ten for points scored in the St. Louis area, scoring 464 points on his way to averaging 22.1 points per game. He was named First Team All-Metro his Senior year. In his Junior year, he also lead the Wildcats to a 24-6 season that ended with a District Championship. Westminster fans will never forget his performance against rival Priory on February 2nd, 2016, where he knocked down 46 points on 10-12 shooting from outside the arc, giving his team the resounding 70-39 win.

“Aaron was always an electric player,” said John Pottebaum, a classmate with Aaron at Westminster. “He brought a different type of energy into the Arena, and the crowd always held their breath every time he touched the ball. He’s definitely a special player.”

Once Aaron graduated from Westminster, he made his way down to Carbondale, where he started his new basketball career in college with the Salukis. Upon arrival, Aaron says that the college atmosphere humbled him quite a bit. After being a star player in high school, he was now playing at a higher level, and this was a reminder to Cook that it was essential that he worked hard. It would not be easy to become the player he wanted to be due to the speed of the game and the small margin for error at this top-tier Division 1 level.

“It’s a constant battle for playing time, so you are competing with teammates as well as the other teams you play,” said Cook regarding to his first year on the SIU team. “I had to learn that nothing is given and everything is earned.”

When Cook was a freshman, a player on the team helped him blend into the atmosphere of the team and encouraged him to work hard in all that he did. This player was Mike Rodriguez, senior point guard. Cook calls Rodriguez a “mentor,” and he credits him for his tremendous growth throughout his first year on the team.

“Mike pushed me to be a better player and he taught me a lot about the game,” Cook said, “Because of him, I have grown as a player.”

In his Freshman season at SIU, Cook earned his spot. Cook averaged a respectable 11 minutes per game, but still managed to grab 31 steals (fourth most on team). Cook also got his fair share of points, knocking down 11 against both Evansville and Drake. Not too shabby for his first year at the Division I level.

He made his way into the starting five in his Sophomore season, playing in every game and starting in all except one of the 33 games his team played. He averaged 10 points per game, 3 assists, and led the Salukis in three point shooting percentage. He scored in double figures in over half his games played, and perhaps one of his more memorable games was the matchup against Missouri State, where Cook knocked down the winning free throws to get the win in overtime. Cook was named to the MVC Most-Improved Team and also made his way onto the MVC All Academic Second-Team as a Sophomore.

This year, Cook and the Salukis faced the Kentucky Wildcats, one of the top teams in the nation, in an early season matchup. In this game, Cook went full beast mode, scoring 18 points, the most scored by any player on either team in the game. His efforts led the Salukis to have the lead at the half, and they only lost the game by 12, which is shocking for a game that should have been an easy win for Kentucky. Cook gave the Salukis life, just like he gave the Wildcats life in his high school career.
Cook always stays motivated because of how badly he wants to be successful. Cook says that he wants to be remembered as an “SIU Great,” and to accomplish big things at the university. He also says that he wants to be a role model for his little brother, Anthony, and to make his mother proud.

As for the rest of the season, Cook plans to maintain this hot streak that he has going. Cook says his goal for his team is to win a Missouri Valley Conference Championship and also to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament in March. Cook also hopes for himself to be named onto an MVC All-Conference team, and at this rate, these goals seem achievable.

As Cook looks back on Westminster basketball, he remembers the relationships that he made with his fellow teammates, and he is grateful that he still comes in contact with them from time to time.

“We still hang out, talk on the phone, and play basketball whenever we get a chance,” says Cook regarding his Westminster teammates. “The friendships that were formed were priceless, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”