Lenny Cooke Interview
InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met up with Lenny Cooke a week or so ago before a USBL game. Cooke has played on the Brooklyn Kings, and dominated the USBL for the part of the season that he played. In 2002 Lenny declared for the NBA draft as a high school senior, despite not playing that season of basketball. He was injured during the 2002 Chicago pre-draft camp. Teams had not seen Lenny play much basketball for quite some time, so he wound up going undrafted. Below, exclusively on InsideHoops.com, Cooke runs through the last year.
InsideHoops.com: Going back to the 2002 NBA draft, what was the situation? You had gotten hurt at the Chicago pre-draft camp, which was a pretty major blow.
Lenny Cooke: Not much really changed. After I got hurt in Chicago it was basically like, I knew what was going on, I knew there was a possibility of me not getting drafted, so it really didn't bother me when I was undrafted, because nobody got a chance to see me play in a year and a half. So it was like, how can someone invest money in me if they've never seen me play, or they hadn't really gotten the chance to see me play. So it really didn't bother me, as far as the draft. But other than that, every day since then I've just been busting my ass, working out every day, four or five hours a day on my game. The only thing I really got to work on right now is more conditioning, since I had gotten hurt or whatever, and better defense.
InsideHoops.com: Between the draft and your time on the USBL Brooklyn Kings, which began about two months ago, what's been up?
Lenny Cooke: Just working out, every day, I've been playing in pickup games, but mostly just working out - conditioning, weights. Different stuff like that.
InsideHoops.com: Which NBA teams are interested in you for summer league play, tryouts, etc. - Boston is one.
Lenny Cooke: Recently I have a couple of teams that's kind of interested, Boston, Atlanta, Seattle again, hopefully after the summer leagues I'll be successful.
InsideHoops.com: And what's your main goal, as far as choosing which teams to join, if you wind up having a choice?
Lenny Cooke: I just want to go to a team where they're going to give me minutes and I'm going to get a chance to showcase myself.
InsideHoops.com: As for the USBL, you've basically dominated these guys. Talk about positions, do you think you're playing out of position here?
Lenny Cooke: Here, I'm playing out of position, but sometimes I get the opportunity to go out on the wing and show that I can handle the rock, or show that I can shoot, but as of right now, just like in the NBA, I'm going to play my role. And my role right now in the USBL is to play on the block, so that's what I do.
InsideHoops.com: What's the top thing you offer a team at any level?
Lenny Cooke: I'm a scorer. I'm a scorer. But my weakest thing - I wouldn't say my weakest, but what I need to work on is my defense.
InsideHoops.com: And as for the media, do you pay close attention to what's said...
Lenny Cooke: Not really. People would call and say, you're in this, you're in that... they make it seem when I get interviewed or whatever, they make it seem like it's going to be a good story, but when it comes out it's something negative. But to me, I feel any press is good press for me right now, so it really don't bother me.
InsideHoops.com: Did it bother you back in the past, though?
Lenny Cooke: No, not even, I just never paid attention to it... but any press is good press for me right now. I don't see them interviewing anybody else everyday and trying to get them in the newspaper every day, so if they're talking about me I still got a chance. (Editor's note: During the week of this interview, many media outlets were in fact doing features on Lenny.)
InsideHoops.com: What about Europe, did you consider going there for a while?
Lenny Cooke: I would go wherever, but my main goal is to get in the NBA, because I feel I can compete at the highest level in basketball.