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Northwestern Iowa Basketball

Iowa's Tyler Cook drives around Northwestern center Barret Benson, left, during a Feb. 10 game. Cook announced Friday that he will enter the NBA draft and hire an agent with no possibility of returning to Iowa for his senior season.

Tyler Cook made it official Friday.

The University of Iowa forward plans to enter the NBA draft and will hire an agent, foregoing any possibility of returning to college for his final season of eligibility.

"What a ride!" Cook said in a statement released by Iowa. "These past three years have been arguably the most important of my life. Going through what we did as a team allowed me to learn more than I can put into words.

"This year my teammates and coaches challenged each other to simply be better, and we did that. Although we feel we could have been playing longer, we achieved our goal of getting this program back to the NCAA tournament. I’m honored that I was able to be a part of that."

Cook went through the draft process last spring before deciding to return to the Hawkeyes for his junior season. He implied at the time, however, that it was a close decision.

He showed improvement last season as a defender, passer and leader, and was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media, third team by the coaches. He also earned all-district accolades from both the NABC and USBWA.

He led the Hawkeyes in scoring (14.5) and rebounding (7.6), ranking 12th in the Big Ten in scoring, eighth in rebounding and 13th in field goal percentage.

Early in the season, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward from St. Louis became the first Iowa player in 25 years to collect 15 or more points and five or more rebounds in 10 consecutive games.

He slumped somewhat late in the season, averaging 8.5 points and shooting only 31.1 percent in the last six games, but he still became the ninth player in Iowa history to amass more than 1,300 points and 600 rebounds in his career.

"It has been an honor to coach Tyler the past three years and watch him develop both as a player and person," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "We are thankful for Tyler’s significant contributions that he has made to our basketball program. My staff and I look forward to supporting Tyler in the next steps of his journey."

The father of Hawkeyes teammate Luka Garza took to Twitter to thank Cook for helping to teach his son about leadership.

"I shall never forget your last half as a Hawkeye," Frank Garza wrote. "Your force shined bright as a thousand suns. You honor your parents, family, and all of us that see you!"

A few websites reported a week ago that Cook had decided to turn pro, but the university stated at that time that he had not yet reached a decision.

Cook said he arrived at the decision after extensive discussions with family members and the Iowa coaches.

"This has been my lifelong dream," he said. "I am excited and ready to take on the challenge of making these dreams come to fruition. I want to thank each and every person who has supported me throughout my time at the University of Iowa."

Cook becomes the second Iowa player to enter his name in the draft process, although freshman Joe Wieskamp is not hiring an agent and most likely is leaning toward returning to college next season.

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