Osborne and Cook stepping up

Noah Cloonan

In the 2015-16 season, The Ashland University men’s basketball team ended a 25-year drought as they made the NCAA playoffs for the first time since the 1990-91 season.

The Eagles fell in the first round of the tournament, but with a trio of seniors, Wendell Davis, Boo Osborne and Adrian Cook, the team was poised to make a deep run in this years tournament. That was until they got back to school and heard the news.

Wendell Davis tore his ACL and will be out for the season. Davis has been the team’s leading scorer in each of the past two seasons, averaging 17.7 points per game in his sophomore season and 17.4 ppg in his junior season.

Davis was more than just the leading scorer, he was the heart and soul of the team. In fact he is a major reason why both Osborne and Cook decided to come to Ashland.

 Luckily for the Eagles they have multiple players who have played significantly over the past few seasons who are more than able to step in and fill the void.

The injury forced the Eagles to lean on the other three returning starters from a year ago, Osborn, Cook and Marsalis Hamilton. But it was Cook and Osborne that really took the team under their wing and are looking to get back to the NCAA playoffs and make a deep run.

Cook was an impactful bench player for the Eagles in his first two seasons before moving into the starting lineup last season and he did not disappoint. Cook became the second leading scorer behind Davis, averaging 12.5 ppg to go along with four rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

He really fell into place in the Eagle lineup as they had secured the point guard position.

The other guard in the backcourt for the Eagles is fellow senior, Boo Osborne.

Osborne has been a consistent starter for the Eagles ever since he arrived at AU. He started in over half of the team’s games as a freshmen and all but one game as a sophomore. He started every game as a junior and was right behind Cook averaging 12.0 ppg.

Osborne was with Davis when the injury occurred. He said that they were working out during the summer when Davis came down hard on his leg. Osborne said that he heard a loud pop and feared the worst.

“I was actually there when it happened,” Osborne said. “It hit me hard, I knew something was wrong and as soon as it happened I started praying I was like please don’t let it be an ACL.

It was an ACL tear.

“I really felt bad,” Cook said, “Because I’ve known Wendell since seventh grade and I know how much he loves basketball and that’s a big reason why I came here to play basketball.”

Cook and Osborne both knew that they would be required to step up in more roles than just on the court, they’d have to become the leaders of this team.

“I haven’t changed much,” Cook said, “Being more aggressive, I mean somebody has to pick up the scoring burden but I think we’re a very balanced team too so everybody’s got to pick up.”

Osborne is used to being a leader as he and Davis have led the team for the past few seasons.

“Last year me and [Wendell] tagged teamed off each other,” Osborne said, “So he would lead for like one five minute section and then I would lead the next.”

Just because Davis is not on the court playing for the Eagles, it does not mean that he isn’t making an impact.

“Oh he’s taken a positive attitude every day,” Osborne said. “We know he’d kill to be back on the court with us, finish his senior year with us, but he’s just keeping a positive attitude, he’s still teaching what he’s learned in the past three years with the new bigs.”

Osborne and Cook have both stepped up this year and are fulfilling their bigger expectations.

Osborne is third on the team in points per game averaging 10 a game. He also averages 4.3 rebounds per game.

Cook is the second leading scorer on the team at 12.9 points per game to go along with 3.7 rebounds per game.

The two do more than just score the ball for the Eagles but they are arguably the two best defenders on the team and they have big plans for the season, despite being without Wendell Davis.

Cook says that the goal of the team is to make it back to the NCAA tournament and continue to build on what they started a year ago. Davis will redshirt this season and will plan to play next season for the Eagles.