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Player of the Decade: Mariah Cooks possessed talent rarely seen in area
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Player of the Decade: Mariah Cooks possessed talent rarely seen in area

From the Player of the Decade: Get to know the greatest girls basketball players from the last decade series

Mariah Cooks had the athletic pedigree to be an excellent high school basketball player. She certainly made the most of it. 

Cooks blossomed into a standout early in her Righetti High career and turned that into a long and accomplished spell at Washington State, where she played four years of basketball with the Cougars.

Cooks possessed a combination of tools rarely seen at the high school level. She had size at 6-foot-1, ball-handing skills, an ability to shoot and a passion for rebounding and defending. 

Cooks' father, Adrian, played football at Fresno State and her brother Elijah Cooks is currently a standout receiver at Nevada. 

When she arrived at Righetti High, Mariah Cooks quickly earned a spot on the varsity basketball squad with the Warriors, though she was equally skilled on the volleyball court as a middle blocker. Cooks was more of a role player through her first two years on Foster Road, averaging 8.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game to earn All-League honorable mention recognition as a sophomore.

Though Parham lost his first career start, he captained St. Joseph to wins in their next six games en route to a PAC 7 League championship. Parham's efficiency was off the charts as the Knights won eight of nine games at one point that year. He did not throw an interception until the final game of the season, a playoff defeat to West Torrance.

Then came her junior season. Cooks took her game to another level, taking her scoring average to 17.2 points per game with 10.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game. She earned First Team All-PAC 7 League that year. 

In her senior year, Cooks was named the PAC 7 League MVP as she averaged 21.7 points per game and 12 rebounds in league play. She led the Warriors to the quarterfinals of the playoffs averaging 22 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. She also earned All-CIF honors.

Cooks is the ninth nominee for the Times' Player of the Decade contest.

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Somehow Cooks never earned the All-Area MVP award. (She was beaten out by Madrigal in her senior season in 2012 after Madrigal helped Arroyo Grande win its first CIF title in girls basketball).

After graduating from high school in 2012, Cooks put together a steady career at Washington State. She finished with 127 games played in Pullman, tied for the third most in program history. She finished ninth in program history in career rebounds with 367. 

“You always have to play your hardest whenever you’re on the floor; one minute, two minutes, seven minutes. You always play hard. You don’t take any plays off,” Cooks told the Times during her freshman season at Wazzu.

“The game seemed to slow down for me,” the Righetti graduate said during her sophomore season at Washington State. “I think that helped a lot."

Her best season at Washington came during that year (2014-15) when started all 32 games for the Cougars and averaged 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. She chose to come off the bench as a senior and was a reliable sixth woman for the Cougs, finishing second on the team in scoring with 6.8 points per game, including 8.2 points during Pac-12 play, according to WSU. 

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After what Hancock College Athletic Director Kim Ensing described as a time consuming, painstakingly careful process, Hancock student-athletes have resumed on-campus workouts in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Before they can begin (workouts), athletes have to complete a COVID-19 questionnaire and get a temperature check,” Ensing said.

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