Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: DeMarcus Cousins
NBA Position: Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: Early to Mid Lottery
Overview: DeMarcus Cousins showed up at Kentucky as part of the Calipari Revolution of 2009 as the man who was supposed to do for the Wildcat frontcourt what John Wall was projected to do for the back. High expectations, indeed, but the man they call “Boogie” actually lived up to them. At various points in the year Cousins was statistically the most efficient player in the country, and was a tenth of a rebound away from averaging a double-double (15.1 PPG and 9.9 RPG) for his only season in Wildcat blue. In the early part of Kentucky’s SEC campaign, Cousins put up 11 double-doubles in one 13-game sample, including a string of seven in a row, totalling an impressive 20 on the year. He may have developed a reputation as a “hothead” or “wildcard” — two terms long in vogue to describe him — but Cousins seemed to enjoy such descriptions and used that characterization to his advantage, especially when using his imposing frame to gobble up rebounds or punish rims with put-backs. Throughout the season, he showed he possessed the skill to finish on the inside with authority as well as the ability to drill a jumper out to about 15 feet. He may have only been in Lexington for one year, but his hard work, production, openness with the fans, and personality have endeared him to Wildcat supporters to the point where he’ll be an icon in Lexington for decades to come. His tip-in at the buzzer against Mississippi State that put the SEC Tournament Final into overtime (which Kentucky eventually won) may represent the pinnacle of one terrific year in the Bluegrass — one that earned him SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
Will Translate to the NBA: Cousins’ knack for vacuuming the ball off the glass is his greatest NBA-ready skill right now. It’ll especially serve him well on the offensive end, as he’s superb at snagging garbage buckets off missed shots by his teammates. Even though he only averaged an assist per game at UK, he’s a better passer than many people will remember, especially on the interior. And let’s face it, he wasn’t exactly asked to distribute the ball a lot (Kentucky had another guy doing that). The intensity and emotion that he brings to the court need no adjustment, and the right setting in terms of teammates and coaching staff could help him better focus that drive into improving the areas in which he needs to gain some ground. He won’t jump out of the gym, but he’s happy going body-to-body with the other team’s biggest player on defense and has surprisingly good timing in terms of shot-blocking, and led his Wildcat squad in that category (1.8 BPG). Finally, though Cousins is known primarily for his finishing ability close to the rim, he often showed a turn-around jumper and a fade-away of impressive accuracy, both of which he’ll need.