Lenny Cooke: An Interview With One Of The Best Prep Players Ever

In the early 2000's, no high school star was bigger

by Five Star May 23, 2013 5:08pm ET

Lenny Cooke is a documentary about the rise and fall of one of the most naturally gifted high school players to come out of New York City, well, ever. Part of the movies selling point to audiences unfamiliar with the main character is that, at one point, he was considered better than Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. Lenny Cooke the person is a 31-year-old cook who lives in Virginia surrounded by family, with a head full of memories and experiences from a life few will ever know, and a new role in life, a motivational speaker for the next wave of potential prep phenoms. 

The Five-Star family knew Cooke well before the scouts, agents and temptations truly got a hold of him. Back when he was a young guard tearing up the city at La Salle Academy in Lower Manhattan, he attended Five Star Camp the summer before his sophomore year. Below is a recounted moment of Cooke from Leigh Klien, President of Five Star Basketball Camp, back in 1999:

Lenny Cooke’s team is in the semi-finals of the playoffs in our Development League and John Calipari (coach of the New Jersey Nets at the time) is watching the game right before he is schedule to speak to the camp. There’s 1:01 left in the game and Cooke’s team is down 11.  The following sequence takes place:

Lenny steals the ball off an inbounds play - Layup - Down 9
Lenny steals the ball - hits a three pointer - Down 6
Lenny backtaps the ball - hits another three pointer - Down three
Lenny steals the ball - hits fall-away three pointer

Cooke's team eventually wins by 5, he has 17 points and 5 steals in the second half. Calipari turns to me and says “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. 

“Why is this kid playing in this league? He’s got to be the best players in the Country.”

Lenny was Most Outstanding Player and High Scorer of the Development League that August. Thus the legend was born.

-Leigh Klien

For more info on the Lenny Cooke film, head to LennyCookMovie.com after you view the movie trailer: 

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