Hallice Cooke has never been to Ames, but the Oregon State transfer is very familiar with Iowa State.
Cooke, a 6-foot-3 guard who averaged 8.2 points per game as a freshman last season for the Beavers in the Pac-12, is a New Jersey native. This year during spring break, he took a trip home and just happened to have tickets to the Sweet 16 in Madison Square Garden. That’s where he witnessed his former AAU teammate Dustin Hogue score 34 points in Iowa State’s loss to UConn.
“I had never seen the new Garden so I decided to take a visit,” Cooke said. “I went to the game there and just happened to be sitting in an Iowa State section too. He (Hogue) played one heck of a game.”
Cooke and Hogue both originally come from the same AAU program out east. Hogue was on the older squad, while Cooke played for the younger team.
Fred Hoiberg and lead recruiter Matt Abdelmassih have those connections going for them in Cooke’s recruitment, but timing and a solid track record with transfers are clearly the top reasons why the Cyclones will receive Cooke’s first official visit since announcing he was leaving Oregon State a little over a week ago.
“They were the first school to reach out to me so that said something to me,” Cooke said. “I felt like after talking to the coaching staff and building a relationship during this small amount of time that I feel comfortable with them. I want to go out there and take a look at the school.”
Abdelmassih, who recruited Hogue (a New Yorker) to Iowa State out of junior-college, is best known for his ties in the northeast. He is handling Cooke’s recruitment for the Cyclones but Hoiberg has gotten involved too as of late.
“We spoke one time,” Cooke said of Hoiberg. “It was a good conversation. He spoke about the program and told me some background about himself and his relationship with the players.”
Cooke was a 46 percent 3-point shooter last season for Oregon State. The highlight of his year came on Feb. 2 when he scored 20 points in a win over UCLA. By all means, the 6-foot-3 guard’s future looked bright in the Pac-12. So why transfer after only one season? According to Cooke, a 3-star prospect out of high school, this decision simply came down to being the best player that he can be and of course, winning.
“I feel like that (Iowa State) coaching staff knows how to develop players,” Cooke said. “That’s something that I wasn’t as comfortable with here. I want to give myself an opportunity to win. That’s something that I didn’t feel like was going to happen at Oregon State so that stood out to me – an opportunity to play for a good coach and a winning program that just won a conference title. That stood out.”
Even though Iowa State will receive Cooke’s first visit, the Cyclones still have plenty of work to do. The soon-to-be sophomore wants to weigh his options and says he will take his time.
“There are a lot of schools calling and stuff,” Cooke said. “I’m just going to take this one day at a time. I don’t want to make too fast of a decision. New schools are coming in every day. I can’t really give a list or anything like that. Iowa State is getting a visit just for the fact that they were the first school that recruited me and I have been talking with them pretty much every day since they knew I was transferring. I wanted to give them the first visit.”
According to our trusty scholarship chart here at CycloneFanatic.com, Iowa State currently has two scholarships to give this offseason.
Wherever Cooke chooses to play, he will have three years of eligibility after sitting out a season per NCAA transfer rules.
Joining Cooke on his official visit this weekend will be Boston College transfer, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, Ryan Anderson.