The Washington Township boys' basketball team has a lot of good players.

Only one of them is named Spencer Cook.

"He does everything for us," Washington Township coach Matt Kiser said. "He's so smart, such a hard worker. He sets the tone for us."

The Minutemen are on the brink of one of the most anticipated seasons in the recent history of the program.

Washington Township begins the campaign as the No. 4 team in The Inquirer's preseason Top 25 after a strong summer and a fall season that included an 11-0 mark in a highly competitive league at Paul VI.

"That really built our confidence," Cook said.

Washington Township has nine seniors, all of whom can play, and some top juniors as well.

The 6-foot-3 Cook was the team's leading scorer as a junior with a 16.6 point average. He said he's poised for an even better year as a senior.

"I worked extremely hard to get ready for this year," Cook said. "Last year was really good for my confidence and I'm to build on that."

Cook knows that it's something new for Washington Township to enter the season with such high expectations.

The Minutemen have been a solid, competitive team for years but rarely have ranked among the top squads in South Jersey.

"We're embracing that," Cook said.

Cook is a clever player with a smooth stroke on his jump shot. He also is a top ball-handler who can distribute the basketball.

Kiser said Cook's best quality is his work ethic.

"When your best player is your hard worker, that's a good situation," Kiser said. "That's the way he is and it rubs off on our other players."

Washington Township has a boatload of rangy athletes such as seniors Justin Ortiz, Mekhi Greene, Mike Simmons, Micah Fowara and Najee Wilson - all of whom are in the 6-foot-3 range - as well as seasoned, sturdy veterans such as senior Nick McGough and junior Rich Racobaldo.

The team size and bulk in the paint in 6-foot-7 seniors A.J. Michaels and Rasheen Merlin and a junior to watch in NaQuan McPherson.

"We're excited about this team," Kiser said. "We have a lot of experience."

Cook hopes to play basketball in college but wants to be sure "it's the best fit for me academically as well as athletically."

A top student, he's interested in Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and also has drawn recruiting interest from the University of the Sciences, Post University and some Ivy League schools.

"He really took off last year," Kiser said of Cook. "But he's continued to work as hard as ever. He's our leader. He's the guy we look to."

@PhilAnastasia

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