We all have seen the constant mixtapes of pro athlete’s son’s on the court, especially as of late it seems as if the sons of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have been dominating the Youtube & social media worlds. Back in July it seemed as if every media member that was attached to a mixtape company was in Charlotte at the USBA Nationals to see LeBron James Jr and the North Coast Blue Chip compete for a national championship. The crowds to these games were standing room only with security all over the building, however on another court with less buzz and media hype stands the son of Lenny Cooke who was the former top ranked player in the country and was a player who dominated high school basketball for years.
The story of Lenny Cooke has been told on many occasions and on many outlets including in documentary form which was released years back and can still be seen today. We highly encourage readers to give the documentary a watch as it shows Cooke’s life through the summer prior to his senior year as well as his life following his decision to enter the NBA draft, play overseas and so forth. As a fan of Lenny Cooke I had the pleasure of watching him a few times at a younger age and would always come back to North Carolina from New York visits with my family to tell friends about his talent. Following his career pretty closely over the years and then watching the documentary it seemed as if the story had come to an end, however this is where things get very interesting. During my last trip to New York my brother and I went to a few tournaments on a Sunday to check out some talent in Harlem as well as the Bronx. At one of the first stops we made, we saw an event with younger high school age talent, towards the end of the game we see a young man get in transition and throw down a dunk with ease and trots back down court. My older brother turns to me and lets me know that the young man (Anahijae Cooke) is the son of Lenny Cooke and it didn’t take long to notice this as he looks just like the younger high school version of his father. Fast forward a little less than a year and Anahijae decided to come down to Carolina Basketball Academy in Elizabeth City for a year of Prep School ball to polish up his game as well as taking some college level classes. We got the chance to talk with Anahijae recently about: His high school career, being the son of Lenny Cooke, Carolina Basketball Academy and much more, so without further ado, let’s jump right into the interview.
Question: You have been down here for a few weeks now , how has the transition are what are some of the differences here in NC compared to where you were last year?
Anahijae: It’s different, I’ve never been away this far before for a long period of time but there is no distractions for me. I can stay focused on basketball and school work, last year I was in Atlantic City playing and my dad was coaching. We did pretty good, we were like 26-5, we had D1 football and basketball players and we had a good season making it to the State tournament.
Question: When I saw you in New York last summer playing it was almost instantly that I noticed you looked just like your dad when he was younger, is that something you hear very often?
Anahijae: It happens a lot, I can be on the train and people will notice me, they will ask if I know who I look like and they say my dad name or I might say yea Lenny Cooke is my dad, they all say ohh that’s crazy. It’s crazy because it comes from random people who I’ve never met in my life.
Question: So getting to the documentary about your dad, have you seen it? And if so what’s your thoughts on it, you’re the baby in the movie right?
Anahijae: Yea that was me with the braids, I was too young to even remember what was going on but yea I watch it a lot, it motivates me. It was weird to watch myself but now when I watch it I see myself playing the role of my dad in the movie, Just having different situations happening.
Question: You see him going at Lebron and all these guys, when you all talk is that something that comes up or is it more about just life stuff?
Anahijae: He talks about how he started playing, he didn’t start playing basketball until like 10th grade and its kindve the same thing happening over with me. Like playing against top players from different states, he always tells me that every time you play you have to kill because that’s what he use to do.
Question: At one point in the documentary there was a decision to go away to Prep school or sit a year and enter the draft in which he decided not to go to Prep school. In your process of making a decision to come here do you feel like that decision he made, help you to make your decision?
Anahijae: Yea it really did, to me your Senior year is supposed to be your best year, for like schools to start looking at you and stuff. Especially during AAU season prior to that year because you’re playing 17U and the July live period is a big time for you to get college attention. He didn’t play his senior year so I think that’s what really messed him up, if he would’ve played his senior year I think he would’ve been in the NBA.
Question: So what’s your goals that you want to accomplish this season at CBA?
Anahijae: Just to win and get some more offers, my dad didn’t really care if I played basketball, as long as I went to college and got a degree he would be happy. It’s my personal decision to play basketball and I want to try to help my parents out and everything.
Question: We already have seen what you can bring to the table athleticism and scoring wise, what are some things you feel you can work on to get better?
Anahijae: Ballhandling and getting better on defense are things I want to get better with, when I got hurt it was tough for me to play defense. Since I got here we have been running a lot, getting in top shape so I feel like I player better defense. We do a lot of ballhandling drills here too, we work out every day and its helped me develop with all aspects of my game. On the academic side of it I’m already taking college classes which gives me college credits so if I sign to a school and go to summer school then I will be a sophomore academically and a freshman on the court.