BATON ROUGE – When can you tell Walker High’s Jalen Cook is truly having fun on a basketball court?
It’s usually when the LSU point guard commitment has an assortment of open teammates to choose from and get the ball to.
Consider this two-trip sequence down the court during Monday’s 38-5 blowout over Hammond in the Woodlawn High Summer League where Cook was turning the opponents’ misfortune into highlight reel material.
Cook and Thomas went into full-blown Showtime mode to close the half; Thomas forced a turnover that Cook got his hands on and led a 1-on-1 break, resulting in a bounce a pass off the backboard to a trailing Thomas for a slam dunk and 21-2 halftime cushion.
Warren Young Jr. forced a steal to open the third quarter where Cook fed Thomas for a basket. Thomas followed with a slam dunk and Young took an assist from Cook for another a layin to make it 27-2 with just over three minutes remaining.
“Jalen’s main thing this summer is that he’s been unselfish,” Walker coach Anthony Schiro said. “He’s looking to get those (young) guys the ball and that’s what I kind of put him to the task to do.
“He can score the ball,” Schiro said. “I asked him to get the other guys the ball and it would help us in the long run, and we’ve improved a lot throughout the summer. Our ball movement is looking good. I think the young guys are getting comfortable and that’s only going to be beneficial down the road.”
Even with Thomas (8 points) and Cook (6 points) out of the game for the last nine minutes of play – Walker’s reserves didn’t relent.
The Wildcats, who shot 51.4 percent (18 of 35), built as much as a 34-point advantage (36-2) on Jarvis Patterson’s inside basket when Hammond ended a 34-0 run – a stretch in which they missed 19 consecutive shots and went 19 minutes without a field goal.
“We have a lot of good, versatile guards and the bigger guys like Brian and Donald (Butler) can move well,” Schiro said. “We want to put a lot of ball pressure up front and have the rest of the guys ready and in passing lanes. We feel like if we can disrupt their offense, not ever let them get into a good flow, they’ll never get into a good rhythm.”
Despite turning the ball over seven times in the opening quarter Walker led 8-2 – courtesy of four different players scoring with Kerry Flowers scoring on a cut to the basket at the buzzer.
Cook scored all of his points over a one-minute span with a pair of 3-pointers, while Kedric Brown and Flowers each scored and Cook finished the half with his spectacular dish to Thomas off the backboard.
“They called a timeout at 2-2 and I told our guys to pick it up a notch or two defensively,” Schiro said. “I told them we’re letting them do somethings too easily, not that I expected us to steal everything. We needed to get our hands up in the passing lane, put a little more pressure on them. As soon as we picked up our defensive intensity and our pressure, we started getting easier transition baskets.”
Flowers and Young each scored four points and Turner joined them after taking a feed from Ellis for a basket to start the fourth quarter for a 34-2 lead.
Walker forced Hammond into 21 turnovers and 2 of 23 shooting for the game.
“That first group was very unselfish, moving the ball very good,” Schiro said “Jalen’s that type of player and if he sees that open guy, he’ll get him the ball. That was contagious where our younger guys see that, and they started moving the ball.”