Sidney Cooks Is Back To Take Care Of Unfinished Business
More than a month since Sidney Cooks (Saint Joseph Catholic Academy/Kenosha, Wis.) and the 2016 USA Women's 3x3 U18 World Championship Team lost to France in the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship gold medal game, Cooks remembers the conversation she had with two of her teammates, Amber Ramirez (Karen Wagner H.S./San Antonio, Texas) and Megan Walker (Monacan H.S./Chesterfield, Va.) after they returned to the United States from Astana, Kazakhstan.
“We were all texting the next day after we got home from Kazakhstan saying, ‘This is the time to bring home gold, and we can’t bring home silver next time,” Cooks said.
The 3x3 silver medalists are back in Colorado Springs, Colorado once again this summer in search of a gold medal at the 2016 FIBA America’s U18 Championship that will be played July 13-18 in Valdivia, Chile.
Despite suffering two losses on her first trip and capturing the silver medal, the 6-foot-4 forward took a lot away from the experience, especially from being U.S. ambassadors on and off the court.
“It was a great time because it was my first time playing overseas, but everyone loved us there,” Cooks said. “I’ve never taken so many pictures in my life. My cheeks were hurting every day from smiling so much, but I was so glad I was picked to do that.”
Even though Cooks, Ramirez and Walker have formed a familiarity with each other’s in-game tendencies, they and their new teammates on the 2016 USA Women’s U18 National Team are back to the drawing board.
The 12 athletes have a tough task at hand: How does this team continue to improve upon the U.S. women’s 48-2 all-time record in U18 play and add a potential ninth gold medal to the record books?
Cooks knows everyone, including herself, is trying to find their individual role on this team through four days of practices. She says that being able to get along with everyone quickly has helped her start to carve out her role.
“My teammates usually come to me for a laugh,” Cooks said. “But I think being able to settle everyone down as well as show confidence in my post moves as well as my perimeter game helps the team too.”
A member of the 2016 USA Today All-Wisconsin first team, Cooks has captured the attention of many college coaches. On June 17, the class of 2017 prospect narrowed her college list to 10 schools, including Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA and Wisconsin.
Every practice with USA Basketball is another opportunity to improve her skill set heading into the final season of her prep career, but this week will hold another international matchup for Cooks and the USA U18s.
The Japan U24 Women’s National Team will scrimmage the USA U18 team three times before the U.S. women depart for Valdivia, Chile, on July 9. These will be some of the final opportunities for the USA to mesh together before it takes on Guatemala in its first game of the FIBA Americas U18 Championship on June 13.
“I hope we find our balance and our tempo of how we want to play, because that still appears to be missing,” Cooks said. “We need to find what rhythm we need to get in, so we’re hitting shots consistently and making the right decisions.”
A newly appointed world traveler, Cooks is excited about traveling to Chile, a country she has never visited before. She is not a fan, however, of how cold it could be during this trip.
“I heard it’s going to be cold, and it’s always cold in Wisconsin, so I just want the sun to be out for a little while,” Cooks said. “The trip overall will be similar to going to Kazakhstan, because I want to see what the culture is like outside of playing basketball there.”
It has been a full summer up to this point for Cooks, but listening to her talk about the 3x3 experience also shows she not settling for just that experience. A gold medal in Chile would certainly go a long way to ending the summer on a positive note.