IOWA CITY — It took Tyler Cook quite a while to make up his mind.
He spent a large chunk of the spring chatting with NBA scouts and going through individual workouts with NBA teams, trying to decide whether he should turn pro after two years at the University of Iowa or return to the Hawkeyes for another season. He went right up until the final day before deciding to come back to college.
You would think that might have been followed by a transition period in which Cook took time to adjust his thinking.
"Once I made my decision I was happy with it," Cook said. "I was set on what I had to do here. … It didn’t take any time to get into that groove. I was ready when I came back."
And by all accounts, he came back a changed man, more committed, more determined, more driven to succeed, more inclined to assume a leadership role.
"Whether I went through the (draft) process or not, our goal here is to get better every year as individuals and as a team," Cook said. "That was the plan even if I hadn’t gone through that process. Having gone through it obviously has added some more fuel to my fire so I definitely have taken it up a notch."
Cook even has changed jersey numbers. He will wear No. 25 this season after being No. 5 in his first two seasons.
His teammates say they see a new "edge" to the 6-foot-9 junior forward.
It’s not that he wasn’t an effective player in the past. He led the Hawkeyes with averages of 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season. His statistics were improved in almost every facet of the game over what was a pretty good freshman season. He had more assists, more steals, more blocked shots and higher field goal and free throw percentages.
And now he’s acting now like one of the more seasoned players in the program, which he is.
The young players on the team certainly view him as one of the primary leaders, along with Jordan Bohannon and Nicholas Baer.
"He’s already been a big part of me and my transition here," freshman Joe Wieskamp said of Cook. "He took me under his wing and helps me out. If I ever have a question or if I need a ride, he’s right there. He’s definitely going to be a leader of this team, and we’re glad to have him."
Junior guard Isaiah Moss also filed for early entry into the NBA draft and also feels he benefited greatly from it. He didn’t do all the individual workouts that Cook did, but he said the advice he received from pro scouts — to improve his ball handling, get stronger and become more consistent with his 3-point shot — was helpful.
He said he’s committed to being more consistently assertive than in the past.
"There’s a mindset, an aggressive mindset that you need to have going into every game," Moss said.
But no one on the team appears to have developed the razor-sharp, laser-like "edge" that Cook now has.
"His edge is making everyone else play like that, too …," junior Cordell Pemsl. "He’s hungry to not only succeed individually but he wants to win, and he wants to do things as a team. So, that edge that he has is definitely something that we need, and I think that’s going to be a big part of our team this year. …
"As long as guys are following what he’s doing and he’s leading us the right way, then I think we have a lot to look forward to."