Ex-Jayhawk, whose son
Brian plays for Illinois, had only a short stay in the NBA
Even the most fervent
Kansas University men's
basketball fan might have trouble answering this question:
the three former Jayhawks who have been selected in the first round of the NBA
draft by the Boston Celtics?
Pierce is easy. The former KU All-American was the Celtics' first-rounder two
years ago. Jo Jo White isn't difficult, either. Also an All-American, White was
Boston's first pick in 1969.
third former Jayhawk taken by the Celtics was not an All-American although, like
Pierce, he made himself available for the NBA draft following his junior year
and, like St. Louis native White, he grew up in the Mississippi River Valley
Boston's decision to select Norm Cook with its first pick in the 1976 NBA draft
was probably the zenith of Cook's career.
you've heard Cook's story. In a nutshell, he lasted one year with the Celtics,
played minor league basketball, then returned to his hometown of Lincoln, Ill.,
where he fathered two girls and a boy (Brian, now a 6-foot-10 sophomore standout
for Illinois University).
several run-ins with the law, Norm Cook was diagnosed as paranoid and schizoid
in 1996. He has been incarcerated ever since. Joyce Cook divorced him in 1986.
the late '60s and during most of the '70s, KU head coach Ted Owens and top aide
Sam Miranda spent more time recruiting Illinois than any other state. In those
days, they successfully landed such standouts as Dave Robisch, Tom Kivisto,
Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Rick Suttle, Roger Brown, Dale Greenlee and Roger
Morningstar, among others.
course, Norm Cook.
school All-American, Cook had averaged 23.8 points a game while leading
Lincoln's Community High to a 30-1 record during his senior year. Cook did not
go wanting for college coaches beating a path to his doorstep.
Owens was able to lure Cook to Mount Oread was to offer his high school coach,
Duncan Reid, a job on his staff.
hurt Norm that when he left here he didn't have Duncan Reid with him," said
Morningstar, a Cook teammate for two seasons in the mid-70s. "Duncan had
him on a structured program. He'd get in Norm's face. Some kids don't respond to
that. Some do. Norm did."
never forget Norm Cook's first game in a Kansas uniform. Few first-year KU
players have made such a splash. It wasn't so much that Cook scored 21 points in
an easy win over Murray State, it was that he made all 10 of his shots.
Cook showed the Allen Fieldhouse fans something else on that fall night in 1973.
He exhibited one of the most unusual jump shots they'd ever seen. Every time
Cook jumped to shoot, he fluttered his feet.
don't know why he did it," Morningstar said. "It was a funny little
ballet kick, kind of a duck flutter. We used to make fun of it as teammates will
named the Big Eight Conference freshman of the year in 1973-74. He was the
starting forward on a KU team that reached the NCAA Final Four. Two years later,
he was the Jayhawks' leading scorer at 14.8 points a game. A year after that, he
was in the NBA. Then the decline started.
was a good jump shooter, but not a great jump shooter," Morningstar said.
"We couldn't dunk back then so he couldn't do thunderous dunks, but he had
big hands and he could run and he could defend."
the truth, I've watched Brian Cook play and, if I didn't know he was Norm's son,
I wouldn't have guessed they were father and son. Young Cook can shoot like his
dad, but he's taller and bulkier. Strength wasn't Norm Cook's strong suit and
his son appears to be more of a finesse player, too.
the 100th anniversary of Kansas University basketball a couple of years ago,
Morningstar played host to a reunion of the '74 NCAA Final Four team. Norm Cook
was one of the few who didn't make it.
a terrible tragedy," Morningstar said.