ROCK HILL, SC–Winthrop head men’s basketball coach Pat Kelsey announced today the signing of 6-8 forward/guard Xavier Cooks, a standout Australian player from Wollongong, New South Wales.
He currently attends the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport Centre of Excellence which develops the country’s elite athletes. Cooks is rated the No. 7 prospect in the class of 2014 in Australia according to AUSA.com. That online publication says, “Cooks has been the most dominant player for the AIS team in the SEABL (South East Australian Basketball League) this year by averaging 13.9 points while shooting an impressive 54.3 percent from the field. He also had an impressive outing at the Australian U20s earlier this year.” In addition to leading his team in scoring, Cooks also shot 42 percent from beyond the three-point arc and was second on the team in rebounding and tops in offensive boards.
“We are excited to welcome Xavier to the Winthrop community,” said Kelsey, who will begin his third season at the Eagles’ helm this year. “His father played in college, professionally and is now a coach. A basketball was in his crib from day one and his basketball IQ reflects that. More importantly to me than coming from a basketball family, however, is that he comes from a supportive, loving family. They have raised a fine young man that I will be proud to coach.”
Cooks is the youngest son in a family of ball players. His father, Eric Cooks, is a former collegiate player, NBL (Australian pro league) superstar and current assistant coach of the Wollongong Hawks. And his brother, Dominique Cooks, is pursuing a professional career after a successful college career at Division II powerhouse Chaminade University in Hawaii.
Cooks will be the third player from “Down Under” to play basketball for Winthrop. The other two include former standout Craitg Bradshaw from New Zealand who was a member of the New Zealand Olympic Team and helped lead Winthrop to three straight Big South Conference championships (2005-07) and the NCAA first round victory over Notre Dame in 2007. The other player was Aussie product Shola Diop.