DAYTON, Ohio – First it was Philadelphia and then Miami.
After a tense evening waiting for NBA Commissioner Dave Stern announce his name, the call was finally made just before 10 p.m. Thursday night and former Ohio State G Daequan Cook was all smiles while donning a Miami Heat hat as the No. 21 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Miami had the No. 20 pick in the draft and took 6-foot-11 F Jason Smith from Colorado State. Philadelphia had the No. 21 pick and drafted Cook but swapped selections with Miami landing the Dayton Dunbar product alongside NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Dwayne Wade.
Cook (6-6, 203) was in Miami this past weekend working out with the Heat.
“I actually got the opportunity to hang out with Shaq on Sunday and he told me to go in there and work hard,” Cook said at his draft party. “We had a long talk for about three or four hours and he just told me to work hard. He told me (Miami head coach Pat Riley) was looking at me and he wanted me to come in prepared and play hard. I took all of his advice and it happened. He coached me through the process.
“There is a lot going through my mind right now. This has always been my dream. This is the biggest accomplishment of my life right now.”
As a shooting guard, Cook will play with two of the top players in the league one year removed from claiming the NBA championship.
“No, (I couldn’t ask for a better situation). You’ve got the best point guard in the game with Dwayne Wade and Shaq who is the best big man in the game right now,” said Cook. “To get the opportunity to play with them is going to be great. I am going to learn and be very close with them. But I am going to have to work hard to get a chance to play with great players like that.
“They are looking for a great shooter and that is what they feel like they are getting with me,” he added. “I am a great offensive scorer and I can help the team out a lot. And playing with a great defensive player like Dwayne Wade – he is someone that will help me improve on my defense a lot more. And getting a chance to play with 'Superman' – Shaquille O’Neal – it’s going to be great.”
Cook, who played in 39 games for the Buckeyes as a freshman averaged 19.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, was the recipient of some harsh criticism leading up to the draft. Many felt he was not ready to enter the league after a mediocre finish to his only season at Ohio State.
“That is irrelevant to me. Regardless of what people say, I still came out on top,” Cook said. “Everybody will always speak negatively about me for the simple fact of the way I played at the end of the season. But I still went out there focused and with a lot of confidence and knew I was capable of playing on the next level and being a first round pick.”
Also going in the first round were Ohio State teammates Greg Oden (No. 1 overall to Portland) and Mike Conley (No. 4 overall to Memphis).
“Everybody has worked hard, so I am just happy for them too,” he said.
Cook, who led Dayton Dunbar to a Division II basketball state championship in 2006, is the first Ohio high school basketball product to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft since Kevin Martin of Zanesville was selected No. 26 overall by Sacramento in 2004. Martin played his college ball at Western Carolina.
Prior to Martin, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary G LeBron James was drafted out of high school as the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003.
As a first round selection, Cook will receive a three-year guaranteed deal.
“Miami is a great city. I am just looking forward to getting down there,” he said.