Gulfport's Dimitri Cook to sign with Southeastern Louisiana

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The moment that has fueled Gulfport's Dimitri Cook for the past year was his missed shot at the end of Pass Christian's 37-36 loss to Velma Jackson in the 2013 3A state semifinal.

One year later, he earned a 6A state championship with the Admirals after Gulfport held off Madison Central 44-40 in the 6A semifinal, and then did the same in the 64-59 6A final victory over Grenada.

Cook finally got his moment to say the golden ball belong to him and his team.

"It was amazing," Cook said. "I'm actually glad I transferred over to Gulfport. I've always wanted a ring since ninth grade and I finally got one."

Dimitri's family actually moved from Pass Christian to Birmingham, Alabama, following Hurricane Katrina. After three years away from the family's true home, Dimitri's dad, Jake, actually wanted to initially move the family to Gulfport. However, he chose to move the family back to the Pass because his kids loved living there.

"They left school (that) Friday telling all their friends that they'd see them Monday, but Monday never came," Jake Cook said. "Hurricane Katrina hit that Monday morning, so even in the three years we were in Birmingham, they were determined to move back to Pass Christian.

"That's home for us. Even though (Dimitri) got his championship in Gulfport, Pass Christian is still home."

The Cook family did move back to the gulf coast before the start of Dimitri's ninth-grade year and not long after the tough finish to Dimitri's junior season, Jake received a job offer in Gulfport and chose to move his family there.

It was also a perfect opportunity for Dimitri to improve as a basketball player under Gulfport head coach Owen Miller and join one of his best friends on the Admirals, Jahshire Hardnett.

"I told him one day, 'you should just come to Gulfport High. We'd be a dynamic duo,'" Hardnett said. "With me not knowing he was actually considering coming to Gulfport, Dimi called me maybe a month and a half later and said, 'come help me move.' I thought he was lying and I said, 'no you're not.' He called me and then texted me the address. I had no clue that he was going to Gulfport until I helped him move."

Dimitri did actually move from Pass Christian to Gulfport and helped the Admirals to one of its best seasons in a long time.

The Admirals won the first 14 games of the season before suffering the first loss to Madison Central. That defeat, of course, was avenged in the 6A semifinal in mid-March.

After holding on to beat Grenada in the final, Gulfport finished the year with a record of 32-3.

A little more than two months later, Dimitri announced that he'll be officially signing with Southeastern Louisiana Monday and join head coach Jay Ladner.

"(Ladner) been very loyal," Dimitri Cook said. "He's a man of his word. He's been recruiting me since he was over at St. Stanislaus. He knows how to win. He won the JUCO national championship and a high school championship. He's a winner."

"We didn't try to push him one way or another but we were in the background hoping he would stay close to home," Jake Cook said. "It's close. Hammond is close."