By: Meaghan Mcnichol – Staff Writer
Dayton Flyers men’s basketball is back, and instead of mourning the loss of big players from last season such as Jordan Sibert, the Flyers are focusing on new talent.
After his redshirt year, Charles Cooke, a transfer from James Madison, is ready to produce for the team. After joining the program in June 2014, Cooke has spent the last year of ineligibility on campus working on his game and sharpening his skills.
“During his redshirt year his shot improved,” head coach Archie Miller said. “Another thing that he has learned how to do is play inside the paint, be able to post up, not fade away, get all the way to the basket and try to get fouled.”
Cooke agrees that his redshirt year has helped him improve on his all-around ability.
“I moved from a finesse kind of player to more of a physical kind of player,” Cooke said. “I improved on different aspects of my game as far as being able to shoot the ball from deep range and make it consistently.”
Cooke was a big asset to JMU during his freshman year, the 2012-13 season. He played in 32 games, started in 11 and recorded 729 minutes throughout the season. He finished the season with an average of 22.8 minutes and 5.8 points per game.
His following year at JMU, Cooke logged 1,052 minutes throughout the season with a start in 29 games. He scored 15 points in JMU’s First Four victory over LIU-Brooklyn here in Dayton.
Despite his successful 14.3 points per game average, Cooke believed he could get more out of a different program. He felt it was in his best interest to explore other options.
Dayton was a part of Cooke’s transfer process from the beginning.
“When I came here to visit I was able to get a glimpse of what Coach Archie, the team and the program were about and I was all in,” Cooke said. “I saw the amount of ability this school had to offer and what I could do with it. I knew I could get more out of it.”
Two years later, Cooke is finally in the position to get more out of the opportunity he decided to take when choosing Dayton.
After a year of waiting, Miller is ready for his expectations for Cooke to be met.
“What we’re trying to gear Charles into doing defensively is continue to bring us a guy that can continue to defend multiple positions, give us a guy that’s bigger on the perimeter, to bring out the best in his transition, be able to get out of transition, make shots and get the basket,” Miller said.
The amount of practice and hard work Cooke has put in since coming to Dayton will have the most influence on how he performs on the court this coming season.
Cooke hopes that he can prove how he has built himself as a player in games.
“You want the games to be the easy part and the practices to be the difficult part,” Cooke said. “I want to go out there and play my best game, and do the best I can to help my team win by giving it everything I have.”
Teammate and junior point guard, Scoochie Smith, expects Cooke’s redshirt year to pay off.
“Expectations for Charles are high. He is a skilled basketball player and he will contribute in every way he can. I think he will be a stat sheet stuffer,” Smith said.
Although this is only Cooke’s first year of eligibility, Miller anticipates him being a leader.
“I think he is going to play a big role this year, and an even bigger role next year,” Miller said. “He doesn’t need to be somebody else or play like somebody else, he has to be himself.”
Cooke’s dedication and strong on-court chemistry with his teammates have become part of his identity as a Flyer.
This next season will be dedicated to Cooke building a new name for himself in a new environment, but regardless of the outcome Cooke knows that becoming a Flyer was the right move for him.
“I would say coming here, even for a sit out year, was the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Cooke said.
Photo of redshirt junior guard Charles Cooke looking to pass at the Red-Blue Scrimmage by Multimedia Editor Chris Santucci. For all photos from the Red-Blue Scrimmage, click here.