JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - One of the greatest basketball players in Northeast Arkansas has passed away.
Jerry Rook died early Sunday at the age of 75. He earned All-American honors at Nettleton High and Arkansas State.
Rook was a three-time All-NEA & three-time All-District standout for the Raiders in 1959, 1960, & 1961. He was the MVP of the 1961 State Tournament as Nettleton won it all. Rook dropped 52 points for the Raiders in the state title game. He held the NEA Tournament all-time scoring record for over 50 years.
Rook was recruited by Arkansas, Kentucky, & Mississippi State, but opted to stay at home. He would set the standard on the Arkansas State hardwood. He led the team in scoring in all four of his seasons with the Indians (1961-1965). Rook was a two-time All-American & Southland Conference MVP (1964 & 1965). He still holds the A-State record for scoring, points per game, free throws made, & free throws attempted. Rook is the only player in program history with more than 2,000 career points (2,153).
He was selected by the Baltimore Bullets in the 14th round of the 1965 NBA Draft. Rook played one season for the New Orleans Buccaneers in the ABA (1969-1970). He was enshrined in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Rook was a high school coach for 39 years with stops at Nettleton, Stuttgart, Pine Bluff and Brookland to name a few. Jerry led the Zebras to 2 state titles.
Current Arkansas State basketball coach Mike Balado was one of many to pay tribute to Rook.