Suns’ Jack Cooley is the coolest guy at Vegas Summer League
Jack Cooley is 27 years old with only 23 games of NBA experience.
He’s a career 2.9 point-per-game scorer in that span. Listed at 6-foot-10 and 274 pounds, Cooley isn’t the stereotypical new-age big man. He doesn’t shoot threes and despite his effort wouldn’t be labeled a switchable defender or a shot-blocker.
But he’s a Las Vegas legend.
On Monday when the Phoenix Suns and No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton faced off against No. 6 overall pick Mohamed Bamba, neither of the lottery picks got the “M-V-P” treatment from fans. Instead, that honor went to Cooley, well after the television broadcast’s guest commentator and NBA legend Vince Carter had already done enough boasting about the big man.
“Vince might be the most universally-loved guy in the NBA,” Cooley told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “He’s one of my really good friends now after last season (as teammates on the Sacramento Kings). When I saw he was doing the commentary for the game before us, I texted him and I said, ‘Please tell me you’re doing the next game. Please, please tell me.’
“He said he’d give me a shout-out. Everything he said was so nice.”
Cooley has averaged 6.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in just 9.0 minutes per game backing up Ayton this Summer League, which marks his sixth appearance in the event.
The Notre Dame prospect discussed his career fighting to make NBA rosters — he was on a two-way contract with Sacramento last year — his Suns teammates and more with Bickley & Marotta on Friday afternoon.
On whether the Suns have shown interest in signing him (Phoenix has 15 players under contract but have non-guaranteed deals with Cooley’s summer teammates Davon Reed and Shaq Harrison):
“There was talks of that before Summer League started and now after I’ve played this way again, there’ve been talks with not just only Phoenix but there have been a couple other teams that have rediscovered interest that wasn’t previously there.”
“He has so much potential. It’s not just the physical gifts he has, it’s the mental gift of wanting to be the best. I mean, there are a lot of people … (the NBA is) plagued by a lot of players that just play basketball in the NBA because it pays the most. Deandre plays basketball because he loves to play basketball. It’s really refreshing to see a young guy with such a hunger — every time we match up against another big, he just wants to literally destroy them.
“It was really, really good to see him have that fire in him to go with his unbelievable physical gifts.”
On how Phoenix’s tournament-round loss on Thursday was felt in the locker room:
“It was the highest (a team has taken a loss) really, ever for me in a Summer League game, and I’ve played in like 40 of them.
“It was a much different vibe than anything I’ve felt in a Summer League locker room.”
On rookie wing Mikal Bridges:
“What I saw from him this summer, he can shoot a lot better than I assumed. In the workouts he was slashing really well and he was playing defense and he was hustling a lot, but he can really shoot the ball really well.”