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Wednesday Headlines: DeMarcus Cousins Edition

Boogie opens up about his time at Kentucky.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Mississippi State vs Kentucky Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Cousins was a one-and-done player, entering the NBA Draft to be selected No. 5 overall by the Sacramento Kings. But what if he had not been a one-and-done player?

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.

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