Cooks tops list: University of Nevada recruit named All-NC basketball POY

For the second season in a row, no athlete in the North County rose higher than Atascadero High School senior Elijah Cooks. Whether it was dropping 3s or dropping the hammer with monster tomahawk dunks, Cooks was filling gyms with highlights and crowdpleasers.

He was not the highest-scoring player on his own team, however — that award belonged to junior Kyler Warren — but his impact on a game was undeniable, and earned the title of All-North County Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

From the point position, Cooks posed a triple-threat to opposing defenses as he brought the ball down the court. Standing at 6-feet-5-inches with an elastic vertical leap, a deadly shot, and generous court vision, Cooks did damage.

“If the defense went big on him, he could take them off the dribble,” AHS head coach Fred Price said. “If they went smaller, he was able to see over them and get passes to the cutters. With his ability to handle the ball, we really didn’t get pressed that often.”

He produced more than 50 more assists than the next passer for Atascadero, with 128 total dimes on the season.

“He had some games where he had 14 and 10 assists, and those were just incredible,” Price said.

He also led the team with 51 steals, and was runner-up in blocks (53) and rebounds (193).

During the basketball season, Cooks was dealing with a big decision about where he would be post-high school. Highly recruited as a tight end, Cooks signed with the Nevada Wolfpack in January, and will play football there in the fall.

Regularly, he broke up the monotony with an open-court steal and a break for a dunk at the other end.

“You always held your breath,” Price said. “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Well, sometimes you did know what you were going to get with Cooks.

“He was very loose,” Price said. “He didn’t get nervous in situations. He was always kidding around. Whenever anyone is laughing, he is over there. That is just who he was.”

The calm was with him off the court as well as on.

“He is one of those guys that was always calm and confident,” Price said. “He played against he pressure that made all the other players better.”

Cooks was also one who turned up the volume on the court with massive dunks, including when he was the recipient of a nicely-timed lob pass above the rim.

“Especially when you are home, it really gets the crowd into it,” Price said about Cooks’ dunks. “It builds the confidence, and excites the fans. He had a dunk at the end of the Righetti game, and it brought even the Righetti fans to their feet.”

Cooks will finish out his senior season with the Greyhounds and move on to play football with the Nevada Wolfpack in Reno, leaving big shoes to fill.

“I’m going to miss him as a person,” Price said. “He was great to me and for me. I’m going to wish the best for him in football.”

All-NC Boys Basketball

All-NC Player of the Year

AHS senior Elijah Cooks

All-NC Defensive POY

AHS junior Kyler Warren

All-NC Offensive POY

THS junior Rigel Hall

All-NC Team

AHS senior Elijah Cooks

AHS junior Kyler Warren

THS junior Rigel Hall

AHS senior Marco Rojas

PRHS junior Sebastian Galsim

PRHS senior Gabe Linn

AHS senior Trevor Howell

THS junior Dennis Isbell

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