Once called by The New York Times as the “star-to-be to one who never was”, Lenny Cooke was once considered at the top of his game. Scouted both by colleges and even the National Basketball Association (NBA), Cooke was the top basketball prospect during his prime.
Many players dream of entering the pros and playing against the best teams. Cooke was one of these people who dreamed big, and had the scores to prove it. After all, this former professional basketball player averaged 25 points and two rebounds during his high school games.
With Cooke now out of the limelight and off the courts, it leaves his fans and many supporters (even curious individuals) wondering where he is today. If you are one of these people, this article hopes to shed insight on his basketball journey and where life has brought him. Read on to find out more.
Who Is Lenny Cooke?
Leonard “Lenny” Cooke is a former high school and professional basketball player. This 38-year-old reportedly averaged around 25 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks during his junior year at Northern Valley High School.
In his senior year, Cooke averaged 31.5 points per game. However, this high school phenomenon became academically ineligible to play the sport after just eight games.
In the summer of 2001, Lenny Cooke was one of the most talked-about basketball players in the tri-state area. During the height of his high school basketball career, Cooke was considered higher and better than his peers, namely LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Cooke Didn’t Get Drafted
Because of his superior skills on the court, he was the number one prospect for the NBA even at a young age. However, in an unfortunate turn of events, Lenny Cooke failed to get drafted in the NBA.
Although numerous colleges and basketball schools tried to recruit this giant, Cooke decided to head straight to the NBA in 2002 after being swayed by agents to declare for the draft, thereby foregoing his chances to get and play in college. However, all teams decided to pass on his bid.
Notable Works and Achievements
Cooke won numerous awards and medals during his career. During his stint at the 2000 Adidas ABCD Camp, he was awarded Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
During his freshman year at Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn, this phenom made waves by bagging the Freshman of the Year award.
Despite failing to showcase his basketball chops in the NBA, Cooke remained a great professional basketball player. After his unsuccessful draft experience, Cooke went on to be a free agent and went to play for a couple of minor leagues both in the United States and abroad.
He played in the Rucker Park Summer League under the Terror Squad Team. In 2002, Cooke also played for the Columbus Riverdragons of the NBA Development League (NBDL).
In 2003, Cooke was drafted by the Brooklyn Kings of the USBL, where he averaged 28.8 points and nine rebounds per game. This led him to be noticed by the Boston Celtics, where he, later on, played with for a summer league team.
Lenny Cooke was not one to give up and instead, tried his luck abroad. Lenny Cooke played professional basketball with the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs in the Philippine Basketball association from 2003 to 2004 and again later in 2004 to 2005.
Lenny Cooke Today
As a young, black male pressured by the systemic poverty and oppression he was in, Lenny Cooke admits that his decision to forego his education and enter the world of basketball one he deeply regretted, but also factored in during his decision to hopefully play straight to the NBA.
He has a 2013 documentary film titled, Lenny Cooke, which showed his rise to fame and his journey through life and basketball. He has also coached local high schools in the past.
Today, Cooke continues to advocate for education and has since become a mentor of sorts through his motivational speaking career. He also discusses his mistakes and what he would have done to change this in various speaking engagements.
The Bottom Line
Lenny Cooke’s resilience and bounce-back from the numerous hardships in life prove why he is a great basketball player. Today, he stands proud of the changes he has made in life and now looks back on his basketball career with fondness.