Men's Sports Sports

From the hardwood to the big screen – Mookie Cook set to star as LeBron James in upcoming movie

By Luke Whitehouse

In the past, many professional athletes have taken a step away from their sport to star in Hollywood. Whether it was Kyrie Irving in “Uncle Drew,” or Juancho Hernangomez and Anthony Edwards in “Hustle,” the trend has been set, especially by basketball players. 

 And it will continue, except this time it won’t be a professional athlete in the lead role, it’ll be a player from high school. 

Current five-star point guard and University of Oregon commit Mookie Cook will be taking on the challenge in a new movie titled “Shooting Stars.” 

Cook, who stands at 6-foot-7 and plays the small forward position at Arizona Compass Prep (AZ), will be playing a high school version of LeBron alongside Jett Howard, who will be casted as a high school version of another NBA legend, Carmelo Anthony. The movie, based on the 2009 Buzz Bissinger book of the same title, will be covering James and his friends as he rose to stardom at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio. 

But when first approached about the idea of acting as LeBron, Cook admits it caught him a little off guard.

“At first, I was confused,” Cook said. “Like how…why me?” 

When Chris Robinson was chosen to direct the biopic about James, he desperately searched for someone who resembled James’ elite athleticism, size, charisma and playstyle. 

After many weeks, the search was nearing a dead end. Robinson knew finding someone that met the criteria of an all-time great was going to be a difficult task. So he reached out to former Lehigh University basketball player Jerome Hipps to help lead the search. 

Hipps traveled to many tournaments, and, fortunately for Robinson, he was able to lay eyes on Cook, who showed a “LeBron-ish” style of play and had a similar persona. 

In an interview with The Athletic, Robinson said: “As soon as I saw him, I was like, ‘This is the dude…this is him.’”

Balancing school, his basketball career and filming for the movie was going to be a challenge for Cook. He would go to school for three hours, participate in a mandatory three hours on set, and then would use the time leftover to perfect his craft on the hardwood. Cook admits it was tough to balance both acting, school and ball, but he did the best he could. 

“I had my (basketball) trainer there,” Cook said. “And then I had an acting coach for the first two weeks, so it wasn’t too bad.” 

Cook admitted he hasn’t seen the movie yet, but is eagerly anticipating its release.

“I’m hearing a lot of buzz from a lot of people saying the movie is going to blow up,” Cooks said. 

This weekend Cook made his debut at the 2023 Spalding Hoophall Classic, where he and his Arizona Compass Prep team showed off their elite offense. The Dragons cruised by Oak Hill Academy (VA) 55-35 on Sunday evening. 

Mookie Cook is accustomed to strutting his basketball prowess during games, but in late 2023, he will get to show off a different set of skills on a much different stage: the big screen. 

Photo: Jamarius Russell/The Springfield Student

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