GROTON -- It should come as no surprise that Evan Cook is patient, poised and polished in his approach to directing Groton-Dunstable's offense.
The junior point guard had to wait his turn to get his chance to run the Crusaders' potent attack. As a freshman and sophomore, Cook was cast in a supporting role on the varsity, coming off the bench and contributing as needed while learning from upperclassmen.
Groton-Dunstable graduated its starting five from a club that went 19-5 while advancing to the Division 2 Central boys basketball final last winter, and Cook has quickly emerged as a leading man on offense this season.
Cook had a triple-double, finishing with 24 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, in a season-opening win over Holyoke, and has been creating baskets on-the-go ever since, helping the Crusaders get off to a 4-4 start.
Head coach Greg Gillette isn't surprised Cook, a co-captain, has become an offensive force in his first year as a starter.
"He was stuck behind good experienced seniors," said Gillette. "He's very talented. He impacted a lot of games last season. He played great for us down the stretch. He had some great games in the tournament.
"He's a tireless worker. He put in a ton of work in the weight room and changed his body. He got bigger, stronger and taller. He loves basketball. He's a gym rat. I knew he'd become an impact player this season. But he's even exceeded my expectations. He's done it all for us -- assists, scoring, rebounding. He's been very good."
Heading into Friday's game at Fitchburg, Cook, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 160 pounds, was averaging 18.
"Of course I always wanted to start, but there were some great players ahead of me," said Cook. "I accepted my role and tried my best to come off the bench and be a spark for us. It was fun because the team had a lot of success."
While he's very good at distributing the ball, Cook is constantly working on improving all aspects of his game. Cook is at his best creating off the dribble. He likes to attack the basket. When a lane to the rim isn't there, Cook burns defenses with his nice shooting stroke from the outside.
"He's a pure point guard," said Gillette. "He's scoring more because we need him to. He gets things in the flow so it's hard to guard him. He's real good in transition.
"He gets to the rim. He can knock down shots. He has a great mid-range game, which is not around that much anymore. He's great with a pull-up shot off the dribble. He reads the defense well. He knows when to shoot and when to dish it."
Cook makes it a point to try and get everyone involved on offense.
"I'd say the strongest part of my game is as a playmaker," said Cook. "I'm always looking to make that pass that puts a teammate in a good position to score. I know I have to score some, but there's no better feeling than making a good pass."
Cook credits his family for playing a key role in his success on the court and in the classroom, where he is a high-honors student with a 4.1 grade-point-average. His older brother, Ethan, is a 2017 Groton-Dunstable graduate who was his varsity teammate the past two years. Cook's parents, Bill and Linda, have provided lots of support during his playing career at Groton-Dunstable and at the AAU level for the Mass Elite.
"I owe a lot of my success to my family," said Cook. "My parents are always there for me. My brother really pushes me, too. He wants to see me succeed."
Cook caught the eye of several college coaches with his strong play at AAU tournaments last summer. But his immediate focus is on helping Groton-Dunstable secure a winning season and a state tournament berth.
"He's an awesome kid," said Gillette. "He's an excellent student. It's a cliché thing to say he's an even better kid off the court, but he really is. Everyone loves him. He's a terrific young man."
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi