By Joe Henricksen
He may not possess the typical “baller look.” He’s the skinny kid with the slight frame, checking in at a buck fifty-five. As you watched him this past year, he was just the young, floppy-haired kid who looked like he had just exited the stage as his boy band finished up a concert.
Looks can be deceiving, though, which is why York’s David Cohn is among the Hoops Report’s top ranked players in the loaded Class of 2013 in Illinois.
The Hoops Report took some shots from some people when Cohn jumped many other bigger, well-known names in the much-talked about junior class — including those on Cohn’s very own Illinois Wolves club team — when it publicly released its Class of 2013 player rankings early in the fall. But it’s simple, really. Cohn is a better player, even a better prospect, than many of those “big” names. Cohn may be undervalued and overlooked by many, but he’s clearly among the top 20 prospects in the class (No. 15 in the Hoops Report) — and rising quickly.
Cohn, a sharp and polished teenager in conversation and a competitor on the court, isn’t a fool. He knows exactly what people see when they get their first glance of him on the floor.
“I hear it just about every day from someone,” Cohn says with a laugh when asked about his skinny frame. “I’m used to it. But it doesn’t get to me. It gives me an edge, and I kind of use it to my advantage.”
The looks are deceiving because Cohn surprises people — and defenders — with his speed and athleticism that you just don’t expect. He makes an impact with those surprising athletic attributes, whether it be when he blows by a defender in the open court or throws down an eyebrow-raising dunk.
As Cohn’s jumper has gone from consistent to a downright weapon, defenders have been forced to come up on him, which has allowed him to scoot right by off the dribble with his underrated quickness. He possesses an outstanding skill level, is strong off the dribble in the open floor and has an ability to knock down shots with a quick, accurate pull-up jumper and shooting range out to 20-plus feet. He’s an offensive force.
“He can put the ball in the hole,” says York coach Tom Kleinschmidt. “But more than anything, he’s a throwback in that he’s a genuine gym rat. Kids today want all the recognition, but they won’t put in the work. With David, I have to tell him to leave the gym.”
When you talk about players ready to burst on the scene, Cohn is the Hoops Report’s pick this winter in the Class of 2013. Last season as a sophomore, Cohn played the part of Will Sullivan’s sidekick. Then he missed the all-important July evaluation period with a wrist injury, which obviously prevented college coaches from getting their first genuine look and for his stock to rise in the eyes of evaluators and others.
“Yes, it was frustrating and I did sulk for a week or two,” says Cohn of sitting out July with an injury. “I quickly realized, however, it wasn’t the end of the world. I felt blessed that it wasn’t a more serious injury, like an ACL that would have kept me out for nine months. And I feel blessed that it healed the way it did.”
Expect Kleinschmidt, who was an assistant last season and in his first season as head coach, to put the ball in Cohn’s hands and provide playmaking and scoring opportunities for the 6-2 guard. Cohn is capable of playing the point and off the ball, so finding ways for him to score shouldn’t be a problem.
“I will use him at both guard spots,” says Kleinschmidt. “He’s great in the open court, he can come off screens, shoot with range. He has a complete offensive game.”
The Hoops Report has made no secret about an infinity for players who have a natural ability to put the ball in the hole, which is one reason the Hoops Report thinks so highly of Cohn. Sprinkle in just enough speed and athleticism with the scoring ability and knack to play both guard spots, and it’s easy to see why Cohn will be a coveted player by college coaches — eventually.
There have been a few, finally, that have taken notice and been impressed with Cohn’s fall workouts. UIC, Colorado State, Illinois State and Valparaiso are the four schools that have offered. But expect many more mid-major and mid-major plus programs to be involved before the end of this season.
Cohn, who is also a terrific student, appreciates and respects the four schools that have offered. And he’s been in contact with a couple of schools from the Ivy League, which he says is a possibility as well as academics will play a big role in his decision.
“From a basketball standpoint, the relationship with the head coach and coaching staff is second to none,” says Cohn of the things he’s looking for in the recruiting process. “I’m looking for the whole package, with great academics being very important.”
Now Cohn is dedicating himself to adding a little meat to his frame in preparation for college in a couple of years and to quiet those naysayers.
“I’m working on it,” Cohn says laughing after a recent practice about yet another weight question. “I’ve added five pounds and I want to add 10 more. I’m heading to lift weights right now.”