Cooke joins former NAZ Suns Derrick Jones Jr. and Johnny O’Bryant as participants at All-Star weekend
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. -- The NBA Development League announced today that Northern Arizona Suns forward Derek Cooke Jr. has been invited to compete in the 2017 D-League Slam Dunk, presented by Verizon.
Cooke, who is listed at 6-feet 9-inches and 220 pounds, will be the first NAZ Suns player to compete in the D-League Slam Dunk Contest in team history.
The event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 18. It will be broken up into two rounds, with the preliminary round taking place during the NBA All-Star practice at 10 a.m. MT, with the final round set for halftime of the NBA D-League All-Star game, presented by Kumho Tire, that begins at 12:30 p.m. MT.
The first round of the dunk contest will air on Facebook live, while the D-League All-Star game and the final round of the dunk contest will be televised on NBA TV.
Five other players will be competing against Cooke. They are Fort Wayne’s Alex Poythress, Iowa’s Troy Williams, Windy City’s Alfonso McKinnie, Long Island’s Trahson Burrell and Raptors’ John Jordan. Jordan won the competition last season.
The NBA D-League Slam Dunk presented by Verizon has all six competitors completing two dunks in the first round, with each judge awarding six to 10 points for each dunk. Dunkers will have 60 seconds to complete each dunk. The two players with the highest composite scores after the first round move on to the second round, where the time limits and scoring system remain the same. The player with the highest composite score for his two dunks in the final round is crowned the 2017 NBA D-League Slam Dunk champion.
NBA players Langston Galloway (New Orleans Pelicans), Tim Frazier (Pelicans) and Jonathon Simmons (San Antonio Spurs), all of whom have played in the NBA D-League, are three of the five judges for the final round of NBA D-League Slam Dunk presented by Verizon. The trio will be joined by Tas Melas and J.E. Skeets of NBA TV’s The Starters. The first round of the dunk competition will be judged by NBA players Marquese Chriss (Phoenix Suns), Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) and Frank Kaminsky (Charlotte Hornets) as well as Melas and Skeets.
Cooke has showed off his athleticism all season with the Suns, getting the crowd to his feet with ease when coming in for a high-flying dunk.
The University of Wyoming product joins two former NAZ Suns players to get an invitation to All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
Current Phoenix Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. will compete in the Verizon NBA Slam Dunk on Feb. 18 at the Smoothie King Center at 6 p.m. MT. Known as Airplane Mode, he demonstrated his ability and earned his spot at the highest dunking competition in the nation while with Northern Arizona. His chance to win will be televised on TNT.
Current Denver Nuggets forward Johnny O’Bryant was named a D-League All-Star on Monday. He is one of 12 Western Conference All-Stars, and one of six players named a D-League All-Star who is playing in the NBA right now.
Cooke is averaging 6.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game.