You hear of these stories from time to time – very talented kid, can ball like no other, so good he could be the next (insert Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal or other NBA star’s name here). Then they make it to college (or skipped college)and don’t have a game that translates very well (Mustafa Shakur, Scott Williams, Jawad Williams, Kwame Brown and the list goes one). However, this is not one of those situations – this is something else again.
The person in question is DeMarcus Cousins. Sensational High School baller who was heavily recruited out of LeFlore Magnet High School, was a McDonalds All American who went to Kentucky University. Played for Coach Calipari but not after verbally committing to Alabama-Birmingham and not signing a letter of intent because the coach he wanted to play for moved on. He played at UK and was dominant, alongside John Wall, they went to the Elite 8. There is no denying the skills if the guy. His college career was not without incident either – he notoriously blew up repeatedly and had officials checking his behaviour. Against Tennessee he received a technical (his 8th of the season at that point!) and got into it with fans who had flooded his phone with abuse, even raising his hand and motioning like he was on the phone.
Enter the NBA. He was drafted by the Sacramento Kings (yes a terrible fit from the very start) with the 5th overall pick. He could have gone higher but franchises were scared off by his attitude and mental strength as well as some of his behavioural issues (alarm bells ringing yet?), but when you have the soft hands, the footwork, the touch and the height, people are going to want to take a chance on you. The Kings did this and in the process inherited one of the best young big men in the game – when he is focused.
The following year, a rough start in Sac-town had tempers flaring. After being an All NBA Rookie First team recipient, DMC was producing 13ppg and 11reb but he wasn’t dominant and appeared he had regressed during the lockout where he engaged in Drew/Goodman League games etc. It did not help that he did not like then head coach Paul Westphal and the two repeatedly looked like they couldn’t co-exist. It was written that DMC had asked to be traded (he denied this) but the Kings fired Westphal so it didn’t matter anyway. Once Westphal was gone though, the trouble stayed and DMC had a dust up in the changerooms with teammate Donte Greene.
Then he was part of the USA select team who played against the Olympic squad in the hope of realising an Olympic dream. After a week or so of this, USA Basketball head honcho Jerry Colangelo said the reason he didn’t make the final roster is because he needed to grow up and mature. He also said that he needed to do this not only to become an Olympian at some point, but to have any chance of being a great NBA player and perhaps realise that mountain of potential he has. Not kind words, but we are definitely seeing a trend here.
Most recently he has copped a 2 game suspension for confronting TV analyst Sean Elliot (who was a much better player than he is analyst but still….) at the start of this season, and has now found himself in trouble once more with another 1 game suspension for hitting OJ Mayo in the region he makes his mayo (if you know what I mean). Now it is not a turn and look, clench the fist and target your nuts type of cock punch, but it is yet another indiscretion by a superstar talent who really doesn’t have it all upstairs. He has the world potentially in the palm of his hand and he can’t get it right.
The question that now must be asked it “Will he EVER learn?”. How long can we keep saying these guys are just “kids” and they will mature? He is only 22 so there is time, but even his remarks after the incident show that he is just not ready. “Who cares what he says, he doesn’t have a great image either, blah, blah, blah” is the gist of it. What about taking responsibility for your actions, growing up and moving on. What about devoting your time and efforts to your game and your team rather than resting on your somewhat tainted laurels. Here is hoping he can shake it off, mature and become the next Shaquille O’Neal, because at the moment he is looking like another very talented big man who needs to take a long hard look at himself – Andrew Bynum.