Tommy Lloyd has already brought pieces of Gonzaga with him to Arizona with the hirings of three staffers and the addition of transfer Oumar Ballo.
Could another former Bulldog be next to join Lloyd in Tucson? Gonzaga senior point guard Aaron Cook recently entered the transfer portal and seems like a good fit for the Wildcats, who lack backcourt depth.
Cook only averaged 4.2 points and 1.7 assists in 13.4 minutes with the Bulldogs, but was a much more prominent contributor at his previous school, Southern Illinois, where he played for four seasons and averaged 8.2 points, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3.
Cook was going to spend his entire career with Salukis, but he broke his hand just six games into his fourth season. He was averaging 15.0 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 steals at the time and wound up transferring to Gonzaga for his fifth season because of their winning culture.
Cook, a St. Louis native, would have had a bigger role in Spokane, but Florida transfer Andrew Nembhard was unexpectedly given immediate eligibility, pushing Cook down in the rotation.
“That paradigm shift could have easily resulted in some hurt feelings and tension, but Cook seemed to take it all in stride and fully embraced the role and position he had on the team as defensive stopper and occasional offensive spark plug,” wrote Keith Ybanez at SlipperStillFits.com. “Despite the reduced role, Cook still turned in some eye-catching performances for Gonzaga. Cook was a catalyst in the first half on the road at Saint Mary’s as the starting lineup floundered a bit during the first 20 minutes, and was dominant in Malibu where he collected his first double-digit scoring performance as a Zag while putting the shackles on Colbey Ross.
“Performances like the one in Malibu served as a reminder of the depths of Cooks’ game, but on a team that was an offensive juggernaut he simply didn’t need to be that guy. Instead, Cook maximized his time on the floor by being a reliable and dogged on-ball defender.
“Even as we watched this team from a distance, it was evident that Cook was fully committed and bought in to Gonzaga’s culture and team first mentality. Unsurprisingly, those were the traits that Cook had been looking for in his final college basketball stop, and was happy to find at Gonzaga.”
So why would Cook transfer away?
“With Nembhard largely expected to return, plus the recruitment of five-star recruit Hunter Sallis, it is understandable that Cook would like his swan song of college to be at a location that he figures to take on more of a prominent role,” wrote Peter Woodburn of SlipperStillFits.com.
Arizona might be able to offer that if it strikes out on point guard recruits like TyTy Washington and Nolan Hickman. The Wildcats have four scholarship slots available and, as of now, Kerr Kriisa is the only true point guard on the roster.
The Gonzaga connections can only help.