Now USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo is praising DeMarcus Cousins

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In the gold medal game of the just completed World Cup in Spain, Serbia came out and threw its haymaker at the USA — the Serbs raced out to an early lead and more importantly they got USA golden boy center Anthony Davis in foul trouble.

Then DeMarcus Cousins came in and changed the tenor of the game. Kyrie Irving rightfully got the headlines after an impressive shooting performance, but it was Cousins’ work in the paint and on the glass at both ends that quickly turned the momentum of that game around. He was a force.

This is the same Cousins that the USA Basketball brain trust — president Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski — had concerns in the past about not being mature enough mentally or with his game to help Team USA. Cousins came back to USA camps year after year to show how badly he wanted this. Now, you can easily picture Cousins in Rio in 2016 for the Olympics.

Colangelo talked with Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee and heaped praise on Cousins.

“You can use all the superlatives you want,” Colangelo said Tuesday afternoon, “and apply them to DeMarcus. He made the team, made a major contribution, made tremendous strides. In the locker room after our win over Serbia (earned an automatic berth to the Rio Games), DeMarcus in particular was emotional. He hugged me and thanked me for putting him on the team, and I told him, ‘the past is the past. This is the beginning of your career. Take everything you learned back to Sacramento. You can build on this and have a tremendous career.’ ”

We’ll see how Cousins and the Kings build on this.

But I think Team USA has its centers for Rio if everyone stays healthy — Davis and Cousins make a good pairing. And imagine how good they’ll both look in two years.