Pitt coach Jamie Dixon will always have a soft spot in his heart for Mike Cook.
The former Pitt forward is making Dixon proud by playing well in the NBA Development League.
Cook has appeared in seven games for the Erie Bayhawks after joining the team earlier this month. He is averaging 9.6 points per game and is shooting 75.7 percent from the free-throw line.
Cook’s Pitt career ended at Madison Square Garden in December 2007 when he suffered a torn ACL against Duke and was denied a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
The Pitt coaches were hoping to travel to Erie last week to see the Cook and the Bayhawks play the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, who include former Pitt center Toree Morris. But poor weather and a practice cancelled the trip.
Still, Dixon this week spoke glowingly about Cook’s return from a ruinous injury to play pro basketball.
“It’s great,” Dixon said. “I was really concerned that he wasn’t going to be able to play this year. As far as playing for us this year, I didn’t think it was going to happen. I really wanted to give him something to shoot for, something he could look forward to.
“He’s playing well. I was so happy he got this opportunity. To be out this year would have made it really tough to get back in the mix. He wasn’t ready in November. They brought him back in January. Now he’s playing really well. I’m just glad it’s worked out for him.”
The Bayhawks are 11-8 in the Central Division of the 16-team league and trail first-place Iowa (10-4) by 1 ½ games. The first-year expansion team, coached by former LSU and Indiana assistant John Treloar, is drawing an announced crowd of about 2,000 per game. The 2008-09 NBA Development League schedule runs through April 11.