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Well-rounded Andrew Cook helping lead Carroll College men's basketball

Andrew Cook
Posted at 6:22 PM, Dec 15, 2023

HELENA — Andrew Cook might be a preseason all-Frontier Conference guard at Carroll College, but that's not all he is.

“I feel like I’ve always been a pretty happy guy. I’m always singing and dancing and having fun," said Cook, who is at least partially fueled by hard work, oatmeal cookies and coffee. "That goes a long way. And my faith has been a massive part of my life, and I feel like my faith and my family always kind of keep me grounded and always make sure that I don’t get too consumed with (basketball) sometimes, because I feel like balance is a really huge thing and knowing that my whole self-worth isn’t just what I do on the basketball court. And having that mindset I feel like has for sure freed me up to where I’m able to have just more fun playing, and that’s been helpful."

Cook, who is nearing 1,000 career points as a Fighting Saint, is one of the best players in the Frontier Conference. The junior do-it-all player has been outstanding during his first two seasons at Carroll.

Last year, Cook averaged 18.6 points per game along with 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game to lead the Saints and garner all-conference honors. A few games into his junior season, Cook has already eclipsed that rate. This season, he's averaging 20 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

Born and raised near Huntington Beach, California, and attending Servite High School, Cook had plenty of opportunities to play the game he loves against tough competition prior to coming to Helena.

“In my personal opinion, I feel like I played in the top (high school) league in the entire country," Cook said. "And, like, some of the guys that I played in high school are now at like the (NCAA Division I) Power 5 level and all of that, and so that was a really great experience."

As a teen, Cook was an all-league selection in high school and averaged 21 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists per game as a senior.

So, how did he end up at Carroll?

"Everybody asks me that. To be honest, I’m not really sure," he said. "When I came on my visit, I just felt a lot of love from everybody, and this was the program that I felt wanted me the most. And what’s nice, too, is … this is a faith-based school, and my faith has been a huge part of my life, as well, so being able to, like, continue that here has been great."

“The community here has just been something I feel like, it can’t be matched anywhere else," he added. "This place has been so, so special."

This season at Carroll, Cook has Frontier title desires and national tournament aspirations.

“Last year, my role wasn’t to be as much of a vocal leader, and now that it’s my junior year just kind of learning how to step into that role has been something that I’ve embraced, and it’s been a lot of fun — hard but fun," Cook said.

In addition to taking on a larger leadership role, Carroll's new coaching staff — led by first-year head coach Ryan Lundgren — wanted Cook to improve his rebounding and shot selection.

"What’s been great is, like, they’re great off the court, too," Cook said of his coaches. "They aren’t hard to talk to. We can just like have a good time, even when we aren’t playing."

The Saints have had an up-and-down start to the season. They lost their first three games before winning three of their next four. They then lost two straight going into Thursday night's home matchup with SAGU American Indian College inside the PE Center, where Cook and the Saints came away victorious in a barn-burner, 93-88.

“For these preseason games, these are all just preparation for the Frontier, so as long as we’re getting better each and every game, that’s all that matters right now," Cook said. "As long as we get better each and every day, I feel like we’ll be good. Oh, and free throws."

Success on the basketball court has followed Cook, but he also continues to thrive off the court each and every day.

“I obviously love my team, but I think it’s important to have a variety. I want people to not see me as only, like, a basketball player," he said. "And so when I first got here, my main goal was to just meet as many people as I could, that was one of my main priorities here, expanding to more than just the (basketball) team.

“I’ve met some of my best friends here, and it goes past the basketball team, as well. I feel like I have a wide variety of friends here, and that’s been nice, so when I feel like I need space, I have other outlets. And I have two wonderful host families, too. They’ve been great, and I can always go over there and just hang out with them, it’s like another family for me. Like I said, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else and I have so much pride and so much loyalty here. It’s great."