Hallice Cooke makes most of 2nd chance with Nevada Wolf Pack
NEVADA (14-3, 3-0) AT AIR FORCE (6-8, 0-2)
When: Saturday, 11 a.m.
Where: Clune Arena
TV/Radio: AT&T Sports Net/630 AM
Coaches: Nevada’s Eric Musselman is 66-24 in his 3rd year; Air Force’s Dave Dave Pilipovich is 78-102 in his 6th season
Projected starters: NEVADA - F. Jordan Caroline (17.1, 9.5) and Caleb Martin (19.0, 5.5); G Lindsey Drew (7.4, 3.4), Kendall Stephens (11.6, 1.6) and Cody Martin (13.5, 6.5); AIR FORCE - F Frank Toohey (6.7) and Lavelle Scottie (10.4), G Trevor Lyons (9.1), Jacob Van (3.7) and Keaton Van Soelen (4.1)
Hallice Cooke celebrates life every day, and you can’t blame him.
Let’s go back to mid-May 2016. Cooke, who had signed with Nevada after transferring from Iowa State, was playing a pickup game near his home in New Jersey when he passed out.
According to reports, he woke up a few seconds later and jumped right back into playing. After going through several doctor visits, it was discovered that a growth on his heart had gotten dangerously bigger since his freshman year at Oregon State.
Cooke’s condition wasn’t new. He was told a small growth existed when he was at Oregon State. He was medically cleared, however, by the OSU medical staff.
Nevada did a classy thing, and continued to honor his scholarship. Coach Eric Musselman was going to make him a student assistant coach.
Cooke went for another opinion, and was told his medical condition had been a misdiagnosed, and he was able to start practicing again.
If he has ever felt sorry for himself, he keeps it pretty well hidden. He has constantly said he’s happy to be alive, and to be getting a second chance to play the game he loves.
“Hallice has gone through a lot,” Musselman said last year prior to the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee. “He made the decision to come to Nevada, and then there was the, you know, the heart situation and through further tests, he’s playing and practicing.
“I think next year he’s going to have a really big impact with us. We’re so happy for him and his family that he’s been cleared to play.”
Cooke, who’s a combo guard, has proven to be a solid backup for Lindsey Drew, Kendall Stephens and Cody Martin. He’s averaging 4.0 points and 2.0 rebounds while averaging 16 minutes a contest.
“I didn’t know what to expect after not playing for five or six months,” Cooke said before a recent practice. “It took my rhythm away. I had to earn my minutes. This is a great group of guys. I trust what coach Muss is doing.”
And, Musselman appreciates Cooke and what he has brought to the team. The 6-3 senior has scored 12 points twice (Santa Clara and UC Davis).
“He struggled a little against New Mexico,” Musselman said.
“For the most part, he’s been able to provide substantial minutes. He gave us 28 good minutes (against Wyoming).
“The guy started at Oregon State. He has a lot of big-game experience, and he has deep 3-point range. Teams have to honor the 3-pointer (when he’s on the floor).”
Cooke is shooting 42 percent overall and 51 percent from beyond the arc.
Cooke, who played for the legendary Bob Hurley Sr. in high school, started his college career at Oregon State and averaged 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds. He made the Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention team.
His 41 3-pointers was the fourth-most by an OSU freshman.
He made a 3-pointer in 13 straight games. He reached double figures 10 times in 32 games, and went over the 20-point plateau twice.
Cooke left Oregon State before Craig Robinson was fired following the 2013-14 season, and landed at Iowa State. Cooke never played his first season at ISU, undergoing surgery on both hips.
Cooke played in the 2015-16 campaign, but all 32 appearances were off the bench. He averaged 2.6 a game and was suspended for one game for disciplinary reasons. He left at the end of the season.