Aubry Cook: Quiet energy on the court
When the lead referee throws the ball up at midcourt for the game opening jump ball and the game clock starts the 20-minute countdown, you will find Longhorns junior post Aubry Cook supporting her team from the sidelines, waiting for her moment to shine.
As a top reserve for No. 20-ranked Texas, what happens in the midst of the game is what counts for Cook. Although many look to the starters as the most key players, the 6-3 Cook is one player that head coach Gail Goestenkors consistently can count on to produce off the bench.
With solid all-around post skills, Cook is fifth on the squad in rebounding average (4.0 rpg) and leads the reserves in field goal percentage, hitting at a 47 percent clip from the floor. Cook also averages 17 minutes per game and chips in with 5.1 points per contest.
Cook takes her role in stride.
"We have a lot more energy and intensity this year, and we are all ready to get in and play hard for however long Coach G needs us to," said the soft-spoken Cook. "So far this season has been a lot of fun, even though we need to learn a whole new system and adapt to all new coaches. Each one of us is really excited to come to practice every day and just get better."
The team is riding her quiet energy with a 7-2 season-opening record under first-year head coach Goestenkors. Cook came up big in two wins during this opening stretch. She netted a game-high of 13 points, just two shy of her career-best of 15 points, in a 94-35 win over Lamar. Cook also grabbed seven rebounds, a personal best, in a 76-60 win over UT Arlington in late November.
Cook's play and attitude have the earned the respect of the UT coaching staff.
"Aubry is a solid teammate who is consistent with her work habits and how she treats the team as a whole. These character traits make her valuable to the program," stated assistant coach Mickie DeMoss, who has coached elite players in her previous stops at Tennessee and Kentucky. "We count on her to go in and play hard. She rebounds, plays defense, sets screens and brings a lot of energy. Aubry spent time this offseason really getting into the best shape in her career while working hard on her offense and making better shot selections."
"I look at Aubry as one of the hardest workers on the squad. She hits the board hard and plays physical defense -- always doing the little things out there that some people wouldn't notice," continued DeMoss, who works directly with the post players in practice.
Although Cook started playing basketball when she was just five years old, she developed a better appreciation for the game during her high school years at basketball power Cy-Fair High School in Houston where she earned Street & Smith All-America and Texas All-State honors while playing for coach Ann Roubique.
Aubry also had a wonderful basketball tutor in her family, as her father, the late Greg "Cookieman" Cook, worked endlessly with her on her game. Cook played for nationally-renown LSU from 1976-1981 and was a teammate to Shaq -- Shaquille O'Neal. Cook was drafted by the New York Knicks before playing European pro ball for seven years.
Cook, who unexpectedly passed away during Aubry's senior year in high school, continues to have a significant role in his daughter's life. In this year's team media guide, Aubry refers to her dad as "the most inspirational person in her basketball career."
The UT coaches agree that the memory of Greg Cook stays alive through his daughter.
"Aubry's dad is a great inspiration to her. She uses her dad, his spirit, his words, to keep herself motivated," DeMoss finished. "She even has his name written on her basketball shoes."
"I wrote my Dad's name on my shoes to remind me of all he gave me and taught me. Now, my mother (Sherryl Cook) is there for me double, and she travels to see us play whenever she can," noted Cook.
Cook and her mom spent the Thanksgiving holiday together in Honolulu, where both of them, admitted Aubry, did damage on the credit cards because, as she laughingly said, "We REALLY know how to shop!"
Outside of her favorite hobbies, shopping -- Cook is famous for her incredible collection of shoes -- and basketball, Aubry shines as a student-athlete. Majoring in education and youth and community studies, she is a two-time Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll selection.
"It makes me feel really good to help out the team in every way I can and take care of my classwork at the same time," said Cook. "I just play hard and just contribute where I can, mostly in rebounding and post defense. I want to help us be a championship team and do what it takes."