« Men’s Basketball 2016-17

Steven Cook

School

Princeton University

Position
Forward
Major
Economics

Classroom

In the classroom, Steven Cook has been a model citizen. He has embraced the academic experience and the challenges that have come with it, and has set a standard of organization and efficiency for his teammates and for all student-athletes at Princeton. His grades fall within the range of the most accomplished Princeton students, no small feat given the demands of his athletic-training schedule. In addition, Cook has chosen to take an extraordinarily rigorous course load. An economics major, he has excelled in the highest level economics classes offered at Princeton. Cook is also incredibly intellectually inquisitive, evidenced by the variety and breadth of the departments in which Cook has taken classes: economics, math, sociology, African-American studies, philosophy, psychology, politics and engineering. Cook has excelled in all of these disciplines. Indeed, any conversation with Cook reveals his native intelligence, deep thirst for knowledge and curiosity, and as a junior, he earned Academic All-Ivy League recognition.

Character

Cook was named captain of the men’s basketball program as a junior, an unusual honor normally reserved for senior student-athletes. Cook rose to the occasion and emerged as an outstanding leader. Cook sets a tone, and others follow. Cook had the courage to speak to much older teammates candidly—however difficult—in an effort to help his team win and become closer. Indeed, that’s no easy task and truly a sign of leadership.
Cook’s designation as captain marked the culmination of years of leadership on the basketball team, which Cook demonstrated in several ways. First, Cook has always led quietly and by example.  He is often the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. During practice, his complete attention and effort are devoted to the athletic task at hand. In addition, Cook’s summer workout routine has largely made him the player that he is. He inspires his teammates to work harder and to do better.

Second, Cook has always been vocal when he needs to be. He exercises care and discretion when speaking to teammates; his words matter. Indeed, our hope and faith is that Cook will learn to understand the charisma he has and the great power of his words, and will use his skill and inherent talent to continue to motivate others to serve in ways both related to his beloved game but also in worlds beyond the game.

Community

Cook spent the final six weeks of the summer of 2015—a time when many students are relaxing, vacationing, and preparing to return to school—interning for the Heartland Alliance in Chicago, IL, the leading anti-poverty organization in the Midwest. Cook was a Business Operations Intern. In that role, he helped reorganize business operations systems at Heartland’s largest health clinic for the homeless. At Heartland, he also assisted in the annual certification audit.
In addition, over the last two years, Cook has worked intensely as an independent fundraiser for the Gidel Mother of Mercy Hospital in Sudan. Cook was inspired by a family friend who told Cook about the deterioration of medical care in the Sudan and the desperate need for resources. Cook has been in touch with the only American physician working in the Sudan, who expressed to Cook the need for medical supplies, facilities, and medical personnel.  With a friend, Cook has started to organize and initiate a massive fundraising effort, with the goal of raising over $80,000.  He has spent countless hours on this project, which will have a direct and practical impact on the lives of people on the other side of the globe.
He routinely volunteers at the YMCA and other local organizations. Cook also volunteered to serve as the men’s basketball team liaison for community service to the Princeton Varsity Club, Princeton’s main service organization for varsity student-athletes.

Competition

Cook has truly excelled on the basketball court. He is a two-time All-Ivy League honoree, earning second-team recognition as a sophomore and honorable mention as a junior. In his three years, Cook has been an integral part of the team, playing in 51 wins. As a sophomore, he was an outstanding offensive power, shooting nearly 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range while finishing second in the Ivy League in steals per game. Last season, he shot 45 percent from the field again while standing second on the team in blocked shots and tying for second on the team in steals. Cook’s impact extends beyond statistics; he makes his teammates better. This is, perhaps, his greatest achievement.