When a freshman can come into a program which plays at a high level, such as Kentucky, and average 16 points and 10 boards per game, it's always going to be news. No Wildcat in recent years has come close to those numbers as a freshman.
However, DeMarcus Cousins is there and what's scary is that he's still improving. Cousins has been in double figures 26 of Kentucky's 29 games this year. He's recorded 18 double doubles, which is a freshman record in Lexington. Cousins has also become a more consistent free-throw shooter. Calipari recently stated that Cousins has improved more quickly than any other player he's coached.
So why is this 6-foot-11, 270-pound 19 year old crucified on a game-by-game basis? Everybody from Dick Vitale to the talking heads at CBS have talked about his immaturity issues. Cousins is a single year removed from high school and many expect him to be as mature as a 30 year old. It's unfair to judge Cousins until you know him and follow him closely.
DeMarcus occasionally pouts when things don't go his way. Cousins may even look intimidating, considering the sheer size of the young man. He's said some things, such as how he wasn't impressed with North Carolina before their December match-up, that made Kentucky fans cringe. At least in that instance, he was correct.
But what people haven't seen is Cousins out supporting UK Hoops (the women's team), wearing pink UK garb. People don't pay attention to how he supports his teammates, cheering them on from the bench. They didn't see how involved he was in Kentucky's Hoops for Haiti Telethon. Cousins is just as likely to dive to the floor for a loose ball as he is to throw down a thundering dunk. Most of what you read on Cousins nationally is inaccurate.
Ever since Cousins dropped a forearm on Louisville's Jared Swopshire, he's been labeled the bad boy of college basketball. Let's overlook that Swosphire, just as flagrantly, tried to knee Cousins in the head on the exact same play. Since that time, Cousins hasn't done anything that appeared malicious.
Instead, he gets racist and disparaging phone calls and text messages from Mississippi State fans before the game. Not to mention after the game, he and his teammates have objects hurled at them from the stands. Let's not forget the asinine story from a South Carolina fan who said Cousins punched him after the Gamecock victory over UK in Columbia a few weeks ago.
Let me get this straight. A 6-foot-11 270 pound man punched you and you smiled? Digest that for a while.
If Cousins were the head case that he is made out to be, he probably would have already snapped. Remember Travis Leslie dunking right on top of him when Georgia came to Lexington? Surely if Cousins were the madman he's made out to be, he would have reacted differently than just getting up and running back to the other end of the court. When Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli all but threw Cousins out of bounds in Lexington earlier this season, Cousins kept moving.
Cousins has a bulls-eye on him every night. He's a target of head games from opposing players, who trash talk. Cousins returns that talk in spades, but what college player doesn't talk on the court? He gets fouled virtually every offensive possession down court, and not just typical bumps, but hacks across the arm, elbows to the back and ribs, and slaps on the hand and wrist. Rather than go ballistic, Cousins just plays the game, and plays it well.
What is used as evidence that Cousins is out of control? He did the "call me" signal at the Mississippi State fans after making a play in the post. How is that an indictment on DeMarcus? Didn't Tim Tebow, the Patron Saint of Football, do that at some point during his college career? I guess Tim's a headcase too.
Kevin Scarbinsky, a writer for the Birmingham News, recently called Bill Simmons of ESPN to task for his comments on Cousins. Simmons wrote that: "We might even see DeMarcus Cousins get drafted ahead of (Ohio State's) Evan Turner this June, which should never happen unless it's a draft for the likelihood of someone uttering the sentence, 'Don't hang up. You're my only phone call!'"
The jokes and the ribbing are old. Not only are they old, but they are sophomoric. As a national writer, there is a responsibility to feed the masses the truth. This doesn't give one free reign to make his opinion look like fact. Unfortunately that happens too often in the media, where entertainment value seems more important than reporting the actual happenings. And when that occurs, legitimate media outlets look like tabloids.
The fact is while John Wall gets all the hype for the Wildcat team, DeMarcus Cousins has been the most dominant player for the Wildcats and arguably in the SEC. He's a legitimate SEC Player of the Year candidate and should be strongly considered as an All-American. When the focus is turned to his overall play and away from the unfair stigma attached to him, then there will be a realization that Cousins may be the most dominant player in the nation.
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