Homegrown turnaround: Jackson Shelstad tips off UO's Oregonian era as Mookie Cook awaits
Jackson Shelstad and Mookie Cooke, two of Portland's best prospects in years, took two very different paths to get to the same place.
EUGENE — Mookie Cook grew up playing youth ball with Oregon’s best, moved to Arizona to play his high school ball against the nation’s best and made his acting debut this summer playing this generation’s best — LeBron James — in the film “Shooting Stars.”
He’s got a megawatt smile. He speaks beyond his years. And, if you ask fellow Oregon freshman Jackson Shelstad, Cook will be quite the infusion of talent for the Ducks when he makes his return from an ankle injury.
“He’s a do-it-all type of guy,” Shelstad said. “We’re excited to have him back.”
Outside of a clean bill of health to start the season, there’s little that’s left the one-time Jefferson High School standout wanting. Still, it was a month before Shelstad’s storybook start to his own Oregon career that Cook admitted he was a little envious of the fairytale his former AAU teammate was penning.
How could you not be?
Shelstad played all four years of high school ball at West Linn. He was a two-time Oregon player of the year, tore through some of the nation’s best teams at the Les Schwab Invitational and came to Eugene as Oregon’s most-reveared in-state product since Payton Pritchard.
“He got to play at his hometown high school with the crowd and be the hometown hero,” Cook said. “Just playing in front of your friends and the people that have been seeing you play from first grade. It’s just amazing for him to have played in front of them and to have memories with them.”
Then Saturday in his first game as a starter, on the day after the school’s crushing loss to Washington in the Pac-12 football championship game, Shelstad announced his collegiate presence with 14 points in 28 minutes, the last three of which came five feet from beyond the arc with seconds remaining to down a Blue Blood at home.
Not a bad second chapter of the biography, right?
But if things go as Cook hopes, this Oregon season has the chance to become more than just a page turner.
This thing has Buddy Cop potential.
It’s not that Cook couldn’t remember his lines. That was the easy part. It was delivering with conviction while filming “Shooting Stars” in Akron, Ohio, that challenged the Portland native.