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Cook declares himself eligible for draft

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Omar Cook has made his decision.

The St. John’s Red Storm freshman point guard has declared himself eligible for the NBA Draft in June, the university confirmed Tuesday, ending more than a month of speculation as to the future of the multi-talented basketball star.

Cook, however, will not sign with an agent, leaving his options open to withdraw his name at any point prior to a week before the June 27 draft and return for a second season with the Johnnies.

“We hope Omar can fulfill his lifelong dream to play in the NBA either this year or in the future,” St. John’s head men’s basketball coach Mike Jarvis said.

“He’s just completed his final exams and has fulfilled his academic requirements for this year,” Jarvis said. “In the event he changes his mind or feels he’d be best served to return to school, we will keep his scholarship open for him.”

Cook was unavailable for comment.

Cook led the Red Strom in scoring with 15.3 points per game and was second in the nation in assists with 8.7 per game. He was unable, however, to lead a young and inexperienced team back to the post-season.

The Red Storm finished with a 14-15 record, losing to Seton Hall in the first round of the Big East Tournament. It was the first time in four seasons that St. John’s did not make an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Several National Basketball Association scouts have said Cook is a mid-to-late first round draft selection or may even fall to the second round. Close to 30 underclassmen or high school seniors have already declared themselves eligible for this year’s draft.

“I am in complete agreement with Coach Jarvis and obviously wish Omar the very best of luck as he pursues his professional aspirations,” Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics, Edward J. Manetta Jr. said. “He is a special player who will be sorely missed, but if he decides to return, he will be welcomed back to the family at St. John’s with open arms.”

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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