“BASKETBALL COUNTY: In The Water” — Kevin Durant’s and Rich Kleiman’s new Showtime documentary — shines a light on Prince George’s County, Maryland, and its residents’ disproportionate professional basketball success.Since 2000, the 800,000-person region has produced roughly 25 NBA players, including Los Angeles Lakers point guard Quinn Cook.The documentary highlights Cook’s long and winding journey to the league, and his journey from NBA Draft snub to league champion was one of the film’s most salient storylines.Insider spoke with Cook about his upbringing in PG County, his relationship with Durant, his tenacity in finding a role in the NBA, and more.Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Kevin Durant’s and Rich Kleiman’s new Showtime documentary “BASKETBALL COUNTY: In The Water” shines a light on Durant’s home of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and its residents’ disproportionate success on the basketball court.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Since 2000, the region — which is home to some 800,000 people in total — has produced countless college basketball players, about a dozen WNBA stars, and roughly 25 NBA players, including Los Angeles Lakers point guard Quinn Cook.”If you grow up in PG [County] and you want to play basketball, you have a head start on the competition,” Cook told Insider. “You have so much access to a lot of greatness.”Cook’s long and winding road to the NBA emerges as a compelling subplot embedded in the greater narrative of what makes Prince George’s County special.
Multiple PG County natives turned professional basketball players — including Durant and Jerian Grant — and coaches from the area spoke at length in the film about Cook’s remarkable tenacity.
Quinn Cook speaks in “BASKETBALL COUNTY: In The Water.”
“It’s the cliche term of ‘You can doing anything you put your mind to’ but Quinn is the perfect definition of it,” Keith Thomas of Coach Team Takeover said of Cook during the documentary. “He had plenty of people in his ear telling him his best route was going overseas trying to get money, but Quinn had a dream.”There, the legacy of NBA, WNBA, and NCAA greats that had walked those same streets before them was palpable. He spent his first three years of high school playing for DeMatha Catholic — a well-known entity in the world of high school basketball — and notes in the film that “on my high school team we had five guys make the NBA.”
Quinn Cook spent his first three years of high school at DeMatha Catholic.
“The thing that makes PG County so unique is that the guy you want to be like is bringing you up,” Cook said. “The D1 players and NBA players bring you up because they know what they had to go through to make it.”
Two-time NBA All-Star Victor Oladipo, first-round draft pick Jerian Grant, his brother, Jerami Grant, and an abundance of standouts for top-tier college programs played on Cook’s junior-year squad that was ranked first in the state. He later took his talents to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, following in the footsteps of successful point guards like Rajon Rondo, Ty Lawson, Nolan Smith, Rod Strickland, and Brandon Jennings.”It takes a village really,” Cook said. “Just having all the resources. We’re a family. We all root for each other. We all want to see each other be great, and we all support each other. That’s what makes our county so unique and special.”
Quinn Cook and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrate their 2015 national championship victory.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
He committed to play for Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils and spent four years working his way up from role player to starter and captain. He was also the heartbeat of the stacked 2014-2015 squad that hung yet another national championship banner in the rafters of Cameron Indoor Stadium.He watched teams pass him by with each of the 60 picks of the 2015 NBA Draft, and when it was all over, “felt sorry for myself for about two minutes.”
“Every kid dreams of getting drafted,” Cook said in the documentary. “I knew what I was going to wear. I knew what I was going to do as soon as I heard my name called, but it never happened.”
Quinn Cook spent four years with the Duke Blue Devils.
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
Even if Cook himself ever had any doubts that he’d find a way to achieve his dreams, those who grew up around him knew better.”When he didn’t get drafted, everybody knew he was going to be alright because that’s the type of player he is,” Jerian Grant said in the documentary.Durant felt similarly.
“[Cook] called me when he didn’t get drafted, and he was crying,” he said in the film. “And I’m like ‘Bro, you’ve got talent. Just keep working.’ He never stopped.”
Quinn Cook (right) and Kevin Durant.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
“There’s definitely this feeling from Kevin of just wanting to make sure Quinn is good,” Kleiman told Insider. “Kevin has his own matter-of-fact way of leading, and I think that he feels a responsibility to Quinn in that way.”And on the other end of the relationship, Cook knew Durant was always part of his support system, going as far as describing him as a big brother.”KD has always been a big brother to me and someone that I reached out to for anything,” Cook told Insider. “He’s reached out to me just making sure I was okay. He’s always been there for me.”
Cook spent years cycling between working his way onto NBA rosters and dropping down to the D-LeagueIn 2016, the 6-foot-1 point guard earned D-League Rookie of the Year honors after recording 19.6 points on 47% shooting from the field in addition to 5.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Quinn Cook appeared in six preseason games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 before he was waived by the team.
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
He got the call up to participate in that year’s NBA Summer League and subsequently signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, but the franchise waived him before the regular season started. He went back to the Canton Charge and was the MVP of the 2017 D-League All-Star Game before signing a series of 10-day contracts with various NBA teams.
Quinn Cook briefly played for the Atlanta Hawks in 2017.
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Though many prospects in positions similar to his may have considered taking their talents overseas, Cook never lost sight of his NBA dream and refused to waver. “I never thought about it. I never entertained it,” Cook said. “I told my agent to never bring me anything overseas. If it wasn’t the NBA, I didn’t want to do it. I think that’s where it starts. If you’re contemplating on overseas and have one foot in one foot out, you lose focus. But for me, I was zeroed in. I was focused in on making the league.”
When superstar sharpshooter Stephen Curry was sidelined with a series of injuries from late 2017 to early 2018, the D-League standout stepped up to fill the void and eventually earned a two-year deal. With Durant by his side, Cook and the 2018 Warriors won the NBA Finals. He was emotional, reflecting on his journey after the victory. “It takes a long time to get really good at playing basketball, and a lot of those guys grind it out for a while,” Durant said in the documentary. “Quinn Cook is the same way … Just never stop working, man. That’s what I tell people. Look at Quinn.”Cook has since moved on to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles. He described playing for the Lakers — his favorite NBA team from childhood — as “a dream come true.””I used to collect Lakers jerseys and gear,” Cook told Insider. “We had a Lakers room in our house with all of our stuff, and it was purple and gold. We were obsessed with the Lakers growing up, and so obviously playing for the team is something that you can only dream of.”
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Though the documentary only devotes a few moments to Cook’s journey from NBA Draft snub to league champion, his story of triumph was one of the film’s most salient
“Obviously going through the G League, playing on a 10-day contract, getting waived in training camps and stuff like that to winning a championship, I had to go through hell to make it,” Cook told Insider.”If you go out there and you live your life with no regrets and work as hard as you can and be a professional, great things will happen to you,” he added.