Down in Rio de Janeiro, the Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins is making his first ever Olympic appearance, trying to help the U.S. Men’s National team win their third straight gold medal. Back stateside, another member of the Cousins clan is in the midst of his own basketball journey.
Jaleel Cousins, DeMarcus’ younger brother, spent Sunday in New York City at the National Tryout for the NBA Development League. The event had a different look this year, as in addition to the open tryout, there were about four dozen former collegiate and international players specially invited. Cousins, who graduated from the University of South Florida this spring, was among those invited to tryout.
Like his older brother, Jaleel is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, standing 6-foot-11 and weighing in at 255 pounds. As a senior at South Florida, Cousins averaged 8.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game, finishing seventh in the American Athletic Conference in rebounding, and fourth in blocks.
Sunday in Manhattan, Cousins once again showed his might inside, averaging 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks over his two games with “Team 4.” While he struggled from the field, shooting just 7-17 (41 percent), he did get to the line for 18 free throws on the day, knocking down 12 of them. And according to his head coach, former NBA All-Star Vin Baker, he should have been shooting even more free throws than he did. “To be honest with you I thought he was getting fouled a lot out there today but he played through it,” Baker told the D-League.
While he didn’t get much immediate feedback, save for words of encourgament from Baker and his teammates, Cousins saw the event as a success. “The experience was cool,” Cousins said afterwards. “It was something different, but it was a great experience. It showed me what I need to work on to actually play in the D-League.”
Plus, when asked post-event what skill he was trying to showcase to coaches and scouts, he remarked, “Rebounding. Was just trying to be in the right spot to get every rebound.” He certainly succeeded on that account, as he finished sixth in rebounding for the event, and his 13 rebounds against “Team 2” were a single game event high.
It was an impressive showing from Cousins, as he attempted all day to follow his older brother’s advice. “He tells me to slow down and be patient and control what I can control,” Jaleel said. “Just do the things I know how to do.”
Jaleel certainly did that on Sunday, and according to Vin Baker, it was a performance that could earn him a spot in the D-League. “I really like his game,” Baker remarked. “He’s a tough kid, he was aggressive. With some more coaching, and understanding of the game, he’d have a real shot to make a team.”
Whether it’s overseas or in the D-League, Jaleel Cousins will more than likely be playing basketball somewhere this season, but until then he’s focused on only two things.
“I’m just working out and praying, man.”