There were plenty of eyes on the 2009-10 DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball team. Maryland’s top-ranked program featured future NBA players Victor Oladipo, Quinn Cook, and Jerian and Jerami Grant.
The Prince George’s County perennial power has been a goldmine for talent, trailing only Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy in developing the most NBA players.
“I remember how nervous and how excited I would be when a coach called me or walked in the gym,” Cook said. “Even if they were looking at Victor Oladipo or someone else, I felt this was my opportunity to impress that certain coach.”
Unfortunately, not every student-athlete, especially in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area, is afforded the accessibility to top Division I coaches. That’s why Cook partnered with STAC, a recruiting platform whose mission is to provide every athlete “an equal opportunity in the recruiting process regardless of location, race or social status.”
The Los Angeles Lakers guard is a partner, shareholder and the company’s first brand ambassador.
“I was fortunate enough to go to two big-time high schools and play on the biggest AAU program in our area, so I had resources and access to the top college coaches in the game,” Cook said. “A lot of times athletes feel if they don’t go to a big school or play on a big AAU team they don’t have a chance, so we want to bridge that gap a bit. STAC spreads the resources out. It gives kids a fair chance to have a shot at their dream school.”
Founded in October 2018 by Robert de Wolff, Bryant Drayton and Peter Hanneman, STAC gives the power to the player, who can manage their own profile, pitching directly to coaches and decision makers. The service, which is free for athletes, charges a subscription fee to colleges. STAC has raised $650,000 to date, and continues its fundraising to accelerate growth.
After three years at DeMatha, Cook transferred to Oak Hill for his senior season, following in the footsteps of point guards Rajon Rondo, Rod Strickland, and Ty Lawson. He committed to play at Duke University, working his way from role player to team captain, while helping guide the Blue Devils to the 2014-15 NCAA Championship.
Cook went unselected in the 2015 NBA Draft, and spent years cycling between NBA rosters and the NBA D-League (later renamed the G League); he was 2016 D-League Rookie of the Year. He signed a two-way contract with the Golden State Warriors in October 2017, winning the NBA title in 2018 and making the Finals the next season, before joining the Lakers in July 2019.
Not only has Cook utilized his time with Golden State and Los Angeles to elevate his playing profile, but he’s expanding his off-court ventures as well, relying on former and current teammates to help guide him in business and investments. Cook’s financial interests include blockchain technology, AI, machine learning, direct-to-consumer goods, SaaS, and consumer/traction services.
“It’s all about learning for me,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of everything. I want to be a part of stuff I enjoy, I like and makes sense for me. It’s been fun for me so far.”
Cook’s said his biggest learnings include investing at an early age—“I would hear from the vets who would wait until they got older and their career was winding down to start doing it, but I wanted to start when I was young,” he says—and having your money make money for you.
While Cook, 27, expands his investment portfolio, his main focus remains basketball. The Lakers entered the NBA bubble in Orlando last week and officially restart their season against the Clippers on July 30.
Cook said he has the utmost confidence in the NBA for creating a safe environment despite Florida announcing more than 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus on July 12, the highest single-day total of known cases since the pandemic began.
“I know the NBA wouldn’t put us in any kind of harm,” Cook said. “They’ve been tremendous the past 4-5 months making sure our safety and our peace of mind comes first. The NBA has gone out of their way—above and beyond—to make this the best and safest place for us.
“For me, there’s no worries about my health or my safety here at all.”