Zach Cooks scores 1,000th career point
Coming into high school, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) junior guard Zach Cooks weighed about 130 pounds but he made it a point to spend time in the weight room to put on muscle and pounds. Weighing in at 155 pounds in his freshman year on the NJIT men’s basketball team, Cooks averaged 8.5 points per game and was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) All-Rookie Team.
Last year, in his sophomore season, Cooks’ scoring average increased significantly as he led the Highlanders in scoring per game at 17.6 while tying Damon Lynn’s school single-game scoring record with 34 points against Quinnipiac. Even more impressive, Cooks scoring 20 plus points in 15 games.
“My freshman year I played behind other scorers and then my sophomore year we lost a couple of players so I had to step up and help my teammates score,” Cooks said, “Coming off last year I had a lot of confidence and coming into this year had a good feeling on the court. The coaches have 110 percent belief in [me] and playing through [my] mistakes.”
“I have taken a load on the scoring and doing whatever to help my team win and if I have to rebound and play defense I will do that and just want to win a basketball game,” Cooks said, “I take pride in my defense as well and kind of let my defense turn into offense and do a lot on both ends of the court.”
This season, Cooks is off to a blazing start leading not only NJIT but the ASUN in scoring at 25.5 points per game and is fifth overall in the NCAA. In his last two games, Cooks has put on an offensive highlight reel, totaling 65 points and eclipsed his career-high in points with 35 against Binghamton on Nov. 20 at the NJIT Wellness and Events Center. Needing just four points to reach 1,000 in his career, Cooks easily accomplished that goal this past Saturday at Brown University with eight points in the first half and finishing up with a game-high 30 points, marking the first time in his career he’s recorded back-to-back 30 point games.
“I knew that I needed four points going into the game and kind of anxious before and during the game but once I got the four points I calmed down and played the game. I couldn’t do it without my teammates and coaches and credit goes to God,” Cooks said, “Unfortunately, we lost the game but a big positive for me.”
“My Dad says when I get hot it’s like an ocean and when I score one it opens up for me,” Cooks said, “I have been 5’9 for a while and playing against 6’8 or 6’9 guys and go in with 100 percent confidence in myself and play my game and I can hang with the best of them and it’s showing right now.”
On playing for Head Coach Brian Kennedy, Cooks said; “We have been pretty close since day one and grown from there. We have learned from each other and he knows my tendencies. He lets me call plays and I will tell him what I want and he will tell as well and work off each other.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, Cooks will have an opportunity to further display his scoring ability and output not only locally but nationally as NJIT visits Rutgers University with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
From Lawrenceville, Georgia, Cooks says his family attends a lot of games; ”They were just up here for [the] Binghamton game and this week for Rutgers. They are frequent flyers as well as driving up and support me a lot. My freshman year we played at Rutgers, the crowds came out and was pretty loud so I’m looking forward to it again.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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