With Oscar Bellfield's eligibility running out after this season, new UNLV coach Dave Rice needed to find an adequate chef to run his potent offensive schemes. Rice found just that guy on Thursday when DaQuan Cook delivered a verbal commitment to the Runnin' Rebel program.
Cook, who hails from Baltimore, Md., has never set foot on the UNLV campus or even been to the city of Las Vegas but was sold on everything about coach Rice.
"The connection with Coach Rice," Cook said about what helped make his decision. "He's been following me since the Super Showcase in Orlando last summer. After that, he's been recruiting me hard. I got to know him and had a good connection with him. Now, we are here where we are today.
"This is the right fit for me. It's on the west coast and I'm from the east coast so I wanted to see a new style of living. UNLV fits my style of play and I enjoy talking with Coach Rice. I want him to be a mentor to me. I want him to be my coach."
UNLV beat out schools such as Temple, South Florida, Washington and Seton Hall for Cook's services. Cook said that all four had offered him scholarships and had been recruiting him heavily.
Cook was hoping to make his commitment this weekend when he was supposed to travel to Las Vegas and play as part of the DC Assault AAU club, but commitments with summer school took precedence over making the journey. He said that was a disappointment but he would make an official visit in the fall at some point.
Playing for St. Frances High School, Cook made a name for himself in the hoop heavy area by earning 2nd team all-metro (Class 2A) honors. At 6-foot-1, Cook is a prototypical point guard but also has the ability to put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the court. He also knows that being a player that his teammates can follow is part of his job description.
Cook said of what Rebel fans can expect from him, "They can expect a pure point guard. I'm going to get my teammates involved in the game. Whenever they need me to score, I can take on the scoring load. Just be a leader on the floor. Being a freshman doesn't really faze me. I'm still a point guard, and a point guard is a leader."
There is no lack of confidence in Cook, who shared that the biggest factor in UNLV being such a good fit for him was Bellfield leaving and him getting an opportunity to flourish right away. He said, "I want to come into the college basketball game and make a big impact my first year. I expect to play as many minutes as they want me to play. I got to work for my minutes and I know it's not going to be easy."
This is the first commitment for UNLV in the 2012 class that now has four openings left. The name that keeps popping up as a key for this class could be a certain Las Vegas star that Cook wasn't shy that he and the staff are going to stay on top of.
Cook said, "I'm going to definitely try and help (Rice) with recruiting. We got to get Shabazz Muhammad to commit too because I know they are looking at him hard."
The Rebels appear to have gotten the player they wanted all along to take over the point guard spot, while Cook sounded relieved to be done with his recruitment and ready to head to Las Vegas.
"It feels real good. I'm finally glad that the process is over and to be a Rebel now."