John Calipari does seem to have a knack for developing NBA-ready players. Both the 2008 and 2009 rookies of the year played for Calipari at Memphis, and likely #1 pick John Wall played for Calipari at Kentucky this season. Does that mean we should listen to Calipari when he says that the top five teams in the draft are sleeping on DeMarcus Cousins, who played alongside Wall at Kentucky this season?
According to FanHouse’s Sam Amick, Calipari’s support of the talented but enigmatic Cousins has been unwavering:
“People are making a big-time mistake on this kid,” Calipari told FanHouse by phone leading up to the draft. “I’ve never coached a player who has come as far as fast as he did. Maturity-wise, basketball-wise, he has got to grow there, but he has come a long way…
… In my opinion, he should be a top three pick,” said Calipari, who coached Evans at Memphis and was consulted by the Kings regarding his former players both then and now. “He’s not even close to how good he can be.”
While Calipari is a huge advocate of Cousins’ talent and his ability and willingness to improve, he did elaborate on how Cousins’ maturity level isn’t quite where most teams would want it to be:
“I coached him like he was my son, and he needs that,” he said. “In fact, he and my (13-year-old) son (Brad) would play video games and I’d say (to Cousins), ‘You guys are the same age.’ He’s one of those kids that needs to be hugged, loved. Don’t act like he’s a grown man. He’s a growing man.”
If the Timberwolves and Nets do indeed end up passing on Cousins, the Sacramento Kings would likely grab him with the #5 pick and pair him up with former Calipari product Tyreke Evans. If that does happen, Kings head coach Paul Westphal will have enough talent to build a contender around — and enough baggage associated with that talent to get him fired.