Xavier Cooks sights US via Canberra

BASKETBALL

As far as certainties go, the odds of Wollongong teen Xavier Cooks playing basketball at an elite level are almost unbackable. 

The son of former NBL big man and Hawks assistant Eric, and brother of rookie guard Dominique, Cooks’s pedigree is well known in Illawarra basketball circles.

In recent times, the 18-year-old has started to make a name for himself on his own.

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Already over two metres tall, Cooks tormented defences in the state’s Youth League competition throughout 2013 and trained with the Hawks throughout the current NBL campaign. 

From Monday, he will call the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra home.

‘‘It’s such an awesome opportunity to head down there. There are some great facilities there and some awesome coaches so it should be good,’’ Cooks said.

‘‘I had a training camp in Canberra for NSW [last week] and I just dropped by the AIS to have a visit. They gave me a tour and some gear. It was all pretty fresh.’’

The move happened in quick fashion for Cooks, who finished high school (Holy Spirit College)  last year.

NSWIS coach Damian Cotter got in touch with Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis  who liked what he saw.

‘‘He said that I had good length and he liked the way I play and so he offered me a scholarship,’’ Cooks said.

‘‘It all came about quickly in two weeks so it was pretty good. It’s pretty exciting and great to be noticed like that.’’

In Canberra, Cooks will play in the South East Australian Basketball League and live with 12 of the nation’s rising young stars. 

From there, he hopes to use a six-month development phase as a stepping stone.

‘‘It is great way to develop before I go to nationals then hopefully, when I go to [the] nationals I can get scouts coming over from big colleges so I can make a move to America,’’ he said.

‘‘It is one of my goals – to play professionally after I go to college.’’

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