Derek Cooke Jr. found the complete package with Rethymno Aegean Basketball Club.
Beaches and basketball, primarily.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound former Wyoming forward signed a two-year contract Wednesday with the Greek Basketball League team located on Crete, electing to begin his professional career overseas.
“I know a lot of people haven’t seen it, but Greece is an amazing place,” Cooke said. “And to go there and play basketball, live on the island, enjoy life there and play the sport that I love, I think it’s going to be a great opportunity.”
During his senior season at UW, Cooke averaged 8.1 points and 5.8 rebounds while helping the Cowboys reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002.
Playing professional basketball has always been a dream for him, and now it’s becoming a reality.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity for me and my family and my pro career,” he said. “I’m definitely excited about it all. I’m excited about the whole process.”
Cooke said he decided to join the Rethymno Cretan Kings because he “didn’t want an offer like this to slip away.”
Since graduating from UW, Cooke worked out for the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and his hometown Washington Wizards.
“Of course I want to play in the NBA, but my agents were telling me that it probably wasn’t likely this year,” said Cooke, whose contract has an opt-out clause.
He had plenty of interest from other teams overseas, and knew that NBA clubs were intrigued by his potential, just not quite yet.
His best route to the NBA, he says, is through the small, picturesque island of Crete, where he’ll move in August.
“It’s a big program with a great history of sending players on their roster to the NBA,” Cooke said. “Me and my agents decided that was the best opportunity for myself.”
Proud to announce I officially signed with @RethymnoAegean today. Looking forward to a great opportunity. Γειά σου Ρέθυμνο, Γειά σου Κρήτη!!— Derek Cooke Jr (DC) (@DCookeJr) June 24, 2015
Heading to the island of Crete in Greece will definitely be an amazing place to start my pro career.— Derek Cooke Jr (DC) (@DCookeJr) June 24, 2015
My ultimate goal of course is to play in the NBA but like every other aspect of my life it's a process and God willing my time will come.— Derek Cooke Jr (DC) (@DCookeJr) June 24, 2015