Young LeBron James has been found.
Marquis “Mookie” Cook, a high-ranking high school basketball player, has been cast as the NBA superstar in Shooting Stars, Universal and SpringHill Co.’s adaptation of the 2009 book by James and Buzz Bissinger.
Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin is also starring in the ensemble drama, which began filming this week in locations in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio.
The call sheet additionally includes Algee Smith, Dermot Mulroney, Wood Harris, Natalie Paul, Katlyn Nichol, Avery Wills, Scoot Henderson and Khalil Everage.
James and Bissinger’s Stars chronicled how James and his best friends in Akron formed a close-knit bond that sustained them through a failed national championship tournament and winning a title by the end of high school. Along the way there were plenty of tests, such as broken homes, jealousies and even James’ own mega-success.
While it is not clear how Cook was cast, it certainly adds points to his already rising status as a star on the court. At 6-foot-7, 200 pounds, Cook is a starting forward at Compass Prep in Chandler, Arizona, part of the class of 2023. A 5-star recruit, he is already committed to the University of Oregon, rating as the No. 2 starting forward in the nation and the No. 1 player in the state of Arizona, according to college recruitment website 247Sports.
McLaughlin is playing Dru Joyce III, a best friend and the son of the boys’ coach, Dru Joyce II, who is played by Harris (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Creed II).
Smith (Euphoria) is Illya McGee while Wills (Swagger) is Willie McGee, a member of the best friend club. Henderson, will portray the dour Romeo Travis, while Everage (Cobra Kai) takes on the role as group enforcer Sian Cotton.
Mulroney is Coach Keith Dambrot, Natalie Paul (The Blacklist) is playing James’ mother, Gloria, while Katlyn Nichol (Black-ish), is James wife, Savannah James.
Chris Robinson (ATL, Black-ish) is directing the project from a script by Frank E. Flowers, Juel Taylor and Tony Rettenmaier.
Producing are Rachel Winter, through her Tangerine Pictures, and Terence Winter, via Cold Front Productions. James is also producing along with his SpringHill teammates Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson and Spencer Beighley.
Senior executive vp production Erik Baiers and director of production development Tony Ducret are overseeing on behalf of Universal.
McLaughlin is best known for starring as Lucas Sinclair, one of the original members of the Stranger Things gang. The Netflix sci-fi/horror hit’s latest season will debut May 27. The actor, who originated the part of young Simba in Broadway’s The Lion King, also starred opposite Idris Elba in drama Concrete Cowboy. He is repped by WME and M88.
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