Next in line: Aaron Cook


Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

Saluki junior guard Aaron Cook attempts a basket on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, during the Southern Illinois Salukis’ matchup against the Evansville Purple Aces at SIU Arena.

By Mark Boykin, Sports Reporter

Junior point guard Aaron Cook has shown steady improvement from his freshman year on to his senior year as a Saluki.

Cook was born and raised in St. Louis and is the middle child of three.

“My mom is a mail carrier [and] my dad is into real estate and a couple of different entrepreneurship businesses,” Cook said.


Cook still remembers the specific moment he credits with sparking his interest in basketball.

“It’s probably in 3rd grade when I was playing basketball,” Cook said. “A guy turned the ball over, threw it straight to me and I shot it from half court and made it for the game [winner].”

Cook said a person has to know their flaws in order to fix them and he has worked hard to do that.

As a guard, Cook isn’t the tallest, standing at 6 foot 2 inches, but he has made an impression with junior guard Eric McGill.

McGill sees a couple of key similarities between Cook and himself as guards which help them with their game.

“Were both quick guards, fast. We can use our speed to get around, and we’re short in the basketball world,” McGill said.

Cook earned recognition from his high school experience, leading his team to a great record and to winning the District Championship among his accomplishments.


“At my school it was hard to get out of districts just because [of] the competition level,” Cook said.

Winning the championship led Cook to get several offers, including Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois.

Assistant coach Anthony Beane said he saw Cook’s competitiveness from the start.

“It’s one of the things that drew me [to him] in the recruiting process,” Beane said. “I [saw] that he wants to win every play.”

Cook said the effort the coaches put into recruiting him, as well as meeting other players, helped him seal the deal to commit to SIU.

“I felt like Coach Hinson was the one that was calling me every day and every other school was calling me every other day,” Cook said. “And it was just important to me to show that the coaches really cared about me and the players here also made a good impression on my visit, so that was the deciding factor.”

Cook had to show Hinson that he first had to be a team player if he wanted to lead the team.

“I really just played spot minutes, I came in and did whatever the team needed me to do for us to win the game,” Cook said. “I was more of a defensive player back then and I just came in whenever the starting point guard, Michael Rodriguez, needed a breather.”

Since his first season at Southern, Hinson and Cook both acknowledged he had to work on his shot, and that’s what he did.

McGill has recognized the improvement in Cook’s shot and now sees him as more of a shooter.

“I [have] seen Aaron grow as far as a playmaker and as a shooter,” McGill said. “When I first got here I heard that Aaron couldn’t really shoot, but I feel like Aaron can make a lot of shots.”

Cook showed his talents against Drake his freshman year, making his stamp on the program at Southern.

“The game against Drake my freshman year, I think I had 4-5 steals in a row and we were down 10, and ended up winning that game by 10,” Cook said. “You know that’s when Coach Hinson kinda looked at me like, ‘This kid might be able to help us going forward.’”

Cook said he still knew he needed to improve in order to be in the the future plans for Saluki basketball.

“The biggest thing I improved was the jumpshot. I feel like that was one thing I needed to do going forward into my sophomore year,” Cook said. “I took all summer and worked on the jumpshot and Coach Hinson stood by his word and started to play me more my sophomore year.”  

Beane said he has seen steady improvement as well and hopes that Cook can stay on that path for his future in basketball.

“I’m hoping to see that he continues to get better and continue to develop his game,” Beane said.

Cook came a long way and worked hard for everything he has. Coaches and teammates have seen his improvement and the fuel behind his fire. Cook is definitely a player to watch next semester as he starts his third season with the Salukis.