Just a year ago, we knew that Kentucky w..."/>

Just a year ago, we knew that Kentucky w..."/>

Could Cousins' reputation keep him from being the top NBA Draft pick?


by Alan Smith

Just a year ago, we knew that Kentucky would sign John Wall, a player that was guaranteed to be the top freshman in the country and eventually the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. A year later, that is most certainly the case. What we did not know or expect was that the other three top freshmen (sorry, Jon Hood) and junior Patrick Patterson would all leave for the NBA after just one year playing together. Patterson was expected to go at some point regardless as a lottery pick. But DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Daniel Orton all presented some upside throughout the season but were expected to stay possibly two years. That is until Cousins became the player that most didn’t expect him to be so soon.

After only accumulating a mere 10 points and 5 rebounds a game during the first half of the season, Cousins became more of an aggressive player both on the offensive and defensive ends. His work ethic rubbed off on other players on the team as they also became better players. And ultimately it forced opposing teams to try even harder because they simply couldn’t compete with the likes of a player such as Cousins. But it all started with the Louisville game on January 2nd. Although Cousins had dominated with 18 points and 18 rebounds, just one of his many games with a dominating stat line, it was his actions during the game that many kept their eye on. After a scuffle for a loose ball on the court took place, it was apparent that Cousins gave a forearm to Louisville’s Jared Swopshire, which cost him a technical foul. Cousins was also dealt a knee to the head, which can be argued, but in the end it didn’t matter.

From that point on, Cousins was seen as a vulnerable target to opposing teams because of his “attitude”. In a few more games throughout the season, he had similar incidents such as in the Louisville game. He was even portrayed by the national media in a negative light throughout the remainder of the season. But his aggresive nature and such was only seen on the court. He has had no legal issues or off-the-court actions that have cost him a few games or the season, as it did to Tyler Smith and a few other players for Tennessee. Even his agent, John Greig, seems to agree. “How many players are out there that give you the squeaky clean in front of the camera and what’s really going on is something else?’’ Greig said. “I know he’s big and looks like a man amongst boys and he plays with an edge. I understand that. He don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs. He is not a big-time partier. They got him wrong.”

Greig believes that if it weren’t for his reputation as the type of person he’s portrayed to be, he could possibly be picked No. 1 over Wall because of his upside and potential. There isn’t anybody in the NBA with the same physical characteristics that he has,’’ Greig said. “If ESPN and John Calipari hadn’t had blue pompoms out for Wall all year and they had equally praised both players, who would be No. 1?” Cousins showed tremendous potential through for a 19-year-old freshman, condering that, according to NBA scouts, he was not in good physical condition. “The other issue is his weight. He played — I think if you ask most NBA people — he played an entire season out of shape. He played successfully. He’s going to have to convince teams that not only can he get to a certain weight but that he wants to.”

If teams are willing to pass on his “character issues” and choose him because of his talent, they would make a great choice in picking a player such as Cousins. A player that has the ability to dominate the game unlike other big men in this year’s draft. He has the ability to go anywhere in the Top 10, but most likely is projected at No. 4. He could be close, or have been close, to No. 2 or even the top spot, but most teams seems to remain skeptical about his aggresiveness. “I don’t think there are any scouts that are debating his talent, but when you start talking about using a pick in the top 10, you have to be a franchise player for a team to say, ‘We know [the issues] are there but we just can’t pass on him.’ ’’

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