Xavier Cooks drives to the basket for Australia in the 109-89 World Cup win over Japan. Image by EPA PHOTO
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Xavier Cook gives Goorjian, Sydney Kings major boost

Joanna Guelas June 8, 2024

The Sydney Kings have been given a massive boost with former NBL star Xavier Cooks inking a three-year deal to link up with veteran coach Brian Goorjian.

After a brief stint abroad, the one-season NBA player is returning to the former NBL champions in a bid to restore the club to their past glory.

The Kings are in rebuild mode after their chase of a ‘three-peat’ fell disappointingly short.

After claiming back-to-back NBL championships in 2022 and 2023, the Sydney club crashed out of the 2024 finals with a loss to the New Zealand Breakers.

They finished the season fifth with a 13-15 record under first-year head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah, who has since been replaced by Boomers coach Goorjian.

The 28-year-old forward had signed with the Washington Wizards for the remainder of the 2022/23 NBA season before being cut.

He then moved to Japan’s B.League and won an East Asia Super League title with the Chiba Jets.

But now, Cooks says he’s dedicated to helping reinvigorate the club.

“I’m focused on the club. Whatever happens, happens in life but I’m focused on this club and getting some more championships around here,” said the Boomer.

“I was always going to come back. I was obviously going to take it one step at a time but I knew that in the long run, I’ll be back here eventually.

“This is my basketball home.”

Goorjian has also signed a three-year deal with the Kings, in what is also a reunion for the experienced campaigner.

The Australian-American coach, who guided the club to three consecutive titles from 2003 to 2005, says recruiting Cooks was a crucial part of their revamp.

Before departing for his overseas adventure, Cooks was named the league MVP after averaging 15.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in his last season with the Kings.

The Wollongong star also boasts a Grand Final MVP award and an All-NBL First Team nod across his four seasons from 2019 to 2023 with Sydney.

“When I got the job, we were all on the same page: Let’s bring Xavier Cooks back,” Goorjian said.

“The whole thought process of this thing moving forward was built around bringing him back to the team.

“Once we signed Xavier, the rest of those pieces fall in place really easily.

“Having Xavier here as that corner piece that made everything a lot easier in our recruiting process.”

Cooks and Goorjian are also keeping one eye on preparations for the Olympics, with Goorjian set to trim his 17-man squad to 12 for the Paris Games.