By Drew Hill
Special to Tidesports.com
Alabama guard Hannah Cook is not a math wizard. Actually, she’s a communications major. But she’s no dummy, nobody knows better than her that three points are worth more than two.
That logic is only part of the reason why Cook has attempted and made more 3-point baskets than anyone in the SEC this season. The other reason would be, she’s really good at shooting the basketball.
It started in the driveway of her home in Ozark, Missouri, and it eventually became a routine: mark the long distance spot, square up, let it fly, repeat. As a young post player it didn’t come naturally, but by the time Cook had hit junior high, it became obvious that long-range shooting was going to become the strongest part of her game.
“Coaches are always on you about getting in the gym,” Cook said. “But in my own mind I just kept telling myself that I need to start shooting more. I want to be consistent in shooting, and I have a real chance to be a 3-point threat for this team.”
So that’s exactly what she did. She shot it more, a whole lot more. Actually, she shot it more times than anyone else on her Ozark High School team, and along the way she scored 1,564 points, good enough for a school record.
It made Alabama coach Kristy Curry’s recruitment very simple, Alabama’s staff wanted Cook because they knew she could score the ball. To the ears of a high-school sharpshooter who idolized one of the most high-volume scorers in NCAA history, the opportunity to lead the Crimson Tide in scoring sounded fantastic.
“My senior year I started to like Stephen Curry, but in high school Jimmer Fredette was my man.” Cook said. “I enjoyed watching him shoot so much when he was at BYU.”
Now a junior with the Crimson Tide, Cook has something in common with her college basketball idols, Curry and Fredette. When she’s on the offensive end she has free reign to shoot it from wherever.
“I can’t think of one reason why she wouldn’t have the green light,” coach Kristy Curry said. “Obviously she can shoot the ball really well, and our team is more successful when she has makes.”
Anytime, anywhere, if Cook lets one fly, her teammates and coaches believe the shot is going in. Earlier this season Cook beat the buzzer to nail a game-tying shot against the Kansas Jayhawks from beyond the 3-point line. The Crimson Tide trailed by three with under 10 seconds to go, and there was no question who would get the ball on the final possession.
“Coach Curry normally never gets on me for a 3-pointer” Cook said. “The only time that I get in trouble is when I drive and I take a shot off-balance.”
Off-balance or not, Cook has been Alabama’s premier scorer since her arrival, and it’s going to solidify her name in the record books before she’s done.
Just shy of three seasons into her college career Cook has scored 927 points for the Crimson Tide – 540 of those points have come from 3-point baskets, and she is averaging 10.7 points per game for her career. At that pace Cook will become the 25th member of Alabama women’s basketball’s exclusive 1,000-point club before she reaches her senior season.
“Joining the 1,000-point club would be a huge,” Cook said. “It would be a great accomplishment, and I honestly wasn’t aware that I was so close. I have to keep working hard.”
Cook’s quest for 1,000 points begins will continue with a home matchup against a Florida team that is giving up 68.8 points per game. The Crimson Tide and the Gators will be wearing pink shoes in support of breast cancer awareness and the University of Alabama’s ‘Power of Pink’ initiative. All breast cancer survivors will be admitted for free.
“We look forward to supporting a great cause,” Curry said. “We want our energy and our effort to represent that in the way that we play on Sunday.”