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Southern Illinois grad transfer Aaron Cook Jr. commits to Gonzaga

UPDATED: Tue., April 7, 2020

Southern Illinois guard Aaron Cook Jr. drives past Northern Iowa’s Spencer Haldeman during a Missouri Valley Conference game March 8. (JEFF ROBERSON / AP)
Southern Illinois guard Aaron Cook Jr. drives past Northern Iowa’s Spencer Haldeman during a Missouri Valley Conference game March 8. (JEFF ROBERSON / AP)

Gonzaga has added another key piece to its roster for next season.

Southern Illinois graduate transfer Aaron Cook Jr. tweeted Tuesday night that he has committed to Gonzaga.

Cook, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound point guard, played in just six games as a senior before suffering a broken right (shooting) hand against Murray State on Nov. 19. He had surgery, but the school announced Jan. 20 that Cook wouldn’t return the rest of the season and he was pursuing a medical redshirt.

Cook was leading the Salukis in scoring (15.0) and assists (3.3) when his season was cut short. He averaged 10.5 points and 3.7 assists as a junior and 9.8 points and 2.7 assists as a sophomore. He started 70 of 71 games in his last two-plus seasons.

The Zags have been linked to several transfer guards in recent weeks, according to social media reports, as they attempt to beef up the backcourt after the departure of seniors Ryan Woolridge and Admon Gilder from last year’s 31-2 team.

Rising junior guard Joel Ayayi averaged 10.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season. Ayayi and senior-to-be wing Corey Kispert, a first-team All-West Coast Conference selection, haven’t announced if they will test the NBA draft waters or return to Gonzaga.

Gonzaga has a top-10 recruiting class, including guard Jalen Suggs, the highest-rated recruit in program history, guard Dominick Harris and wing Julian Strawther.

The 6-4 Suggs is No. 8 in 247sports’ composite rankings. He left open the possibility of playing professionally overseas when he committed to Gonzaga, but 247sports’ crystal ball prediction puts Suggs joining the Zags at 86% and turning pro at 14%.

Harris, a 6-4 combo guard from Temecula, California, is ranked No. 61. The 6-7 Strawther is No. 59. GU also returns wing Martynas Arlauskas.

Cook has made 46.6% of his career field-goal attempts, including 34.1% on 3-pointers, and 68.5% at the free-throw line. He was fourth in steals and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio in the Missouri Valley Conference as a junior.

Cook was named to the conference’s scholar-athlete second team after his junior year and the MVC All-Academic second team following his sophomore season.

The Zags have one open scholarship if everybody with eligibility returns and the recruiting class arrives intact.

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