Getting to Know The 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team: DeMarcus Cousins
April 9, 2009 - Portland, Ore.
All 10 members of the 2009 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team arrived in Portland, Ore., as scheduled on Wednesday evening and among them was 6'11', 270-pound DeMarcus Cousins (LeFlore H.S. / Mobile, Ala.). It has been a busy few weeks for the big man, who played in the McDonald's game last week and on Tuesday announced that he will follow coach John Calipari to the University of Kentucky. Following the USA's first practice on Thursday morning, USABasketball.com caught up with the future Wildcat to talk about the 2009 USA squad, his game and his college decision.
What does it feel like to be selected to this team?
It is an honor. It's bigger than McDonald's; it's bigger than the Jordan game. It's just ten guys representing the USA.
Who are you most looking forward to playing with?
I know everybody on the team. We've all been playing together in AAU since we were babies. I'm looking forward to playing with everybody. I guess I'm most excited to play with, hopefully, my future teammates, Xavier (Henry) and John Wall.
What are your thoughts after the first practice?
The first practice was real intense. We played hard from start to finish, but we had too many turnovers. I believe we will come back and correct that tonight and tomorrow before Saturday's game. Tonight we are going to come back and we will know a little bit more about each other, and we are going to continue to get better and better.
Does if feel like you are playing as a team already?
It's comfortable. We already know each other and what we do, but we are still figuring out what we can do. This team has a very high ceiling. It's going to take a little time to really build that chemistry so we can reach our potential. We're on our way though.
You played in the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival, what do you think about international basketball?
When we were playing in the Festival, we had like two days to get used to the ball and it wasn't a lot of time. It was hard to play with. It's real slick. And then there are the different rules, like the trapezoid key. I think that experience will help me make a quick adjustment here. I hope so because we only have a few days of practice before the game on Saturday.
Do you think you will be able to take advantage of the ball being live once it hits the rim and knock off some shots?
Of course, that's what I do. I like doing crazy things. Playing in high school, I think about doing it sometimes even though we aren't allowed. I'm looking forward to trying it out. We'll see how I do.
Are you looking forward to playing in the Rose Garden?
It's special. It's only my second time playing in an NBA arena. It's going to be a great experience, and it's going to be fun.
How would you describe your game?
Very versatile. I can bring the ball up the floor, shoot it, anything offensively I want to do, and I can play defense on the block.
What area of your game are you most focused on improving right now?
All of it. Like I said, I'm a versatile player, and I plan on doing all of it at the next level, so I really just want to work on my all-around game.
What is your least favorite workout or drill?
Everybody's least favorite - running. Any kind of running.
What motivates you?
The feeling after the game. After you play hard and you win, it's just a great feeling. It pushes you to keep playing hard.
What is your favorite high school memory?
As of right now, probably playing in the McDonald's game. It was a great experience, once in a lifetime.
Why did you decide on Kentucky?
I thought about what coach could help me get to, where I'm trying to go and what place would be the best to do it, and I came up with Kentucky. I followed Coach Cal.
Did you watch the 2008 Olympics? What was your favorite moment?
I tried to, but they played at crazy times. What I did notice was that they played team ball. They made it seem like they had been playing together their whole lives. They just played great team ball.