In sports, there are always “what ifs.” Well, what if Demarcus Cousins played more than one year at Kentucky?
Cousins was part of John Calipari’s first recruiting class at Kentucky in 2010. That team won the school’s first Southeastern Conference title since 2004 and went on to narrowly lose to West Virginia in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Would Kentucky have been able to advance past Connecticut in the 2011 Final Four? One would think a player like Cousins would have likely impacted that game enough to give Kentucky the two-point edge they lacked. If so, the Wildcats would have been in line for a National Championship banner just two years into Calipari’s career at Kentucky.
This what if question is relevant because, apparently, Cousins was open to a second year with the Wildcats. But, as he’s proved to be over the last decade, Calipari was pro player and steered Cousins in the direction to best benefit his future — which was the draft.
And, whether fans like it or not, Calipari was ultimately right. It wasn’t realistic for Cousins to return to Kentucky. When has a projected top-five NBA Draft pick returned to college? It’s difficult to recall that happening in the modern era.
Staying at Kentucky would have only delayed Cousins’ arrival to the NBA and allowed for the possibility of a freak injury to derail his draft status.
Kentucky was certainly “good enough” to beat Connecticut the following year. They just didn’t make as many plays as the Huskies and, at the end of the day, a team has to lose.
Cousins was also more than good enough for the NBA, averaging 14 points and eight rebounds as a rookie followed by 18 points and 11 rebounds as a sophomore. It was an improvement from year one to year two, but not a big enough jump to argue another year of college would have greatly benefited Cousins.
Tweet of the Day
DeMarcus Cousins says his days at Kentucky were the most fun he’s ever had playing basketball in his entire career. pic.twitter.com/7nToEzmUem— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) April 12, 2023
Kentucky will tee off in the first round Wednesday beginning at 10:40 a.m. ET, paired with Florida and Vanderbilt.
Kentucky is making just its second appearance as a team in the national meet (2018 was the prior visit) in program history. The Cats are seeded seventh and will be in Semifinal II, where they will battle top-ranked Oklahoma, No. 2 Utah and No. 5 UCLA.
Football season is just four months away.
Would be a good addition if Tshiebwe and Onyenso both leave.
This is becoming a joke.
This is way too soon.
Tough one to swallow.
Good or bad for Duke?
This was a neat breakdown.
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