DeMarcus Cousins awaits USA Basketball fate following strong mini-camp showing

DeMarcus Cousins and Michael Malone chat after Team USA practice on Thursday (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

LAS VEGAS – In hopes of making USA’s FIBA World Cup Roster, DeMarcus Cousins did all he could do. The Sacramento Kings starting center played to his potential this week, but what happens next is out of his control.

“I haven’t really gotten feedback and I believe they want it that way,” Cousins said after Team USA practice wrapped up for the final time at the Mendenhall Center on Thursday.  “So like I said, I’ve done what I can do to the best of my ability. Everything’s in the air from here. Just hope for the best.”

The 23-year-old center has a good chance of making the team that heads to Spain next month. Coaches and fellow teammates have raved about his performance in USA’s mini-camp this past week. He’s asked questions and been attentive to the direction he’s received from assistant coaches like Monty Williams and Tom Thibodeau.

“All I’ve gotten back from all these guys is that he’s been terrific,” Kings head coach Michael Malone said of the feedback he’s received about his starting center’s performance in Vegas. “His attitude has been unbelievable. If he’s able to do that, his play is going to speak for itself. Everybody knows he’s a talented player. But I think he’s done a great job of showing he’s matured since the first summer he came here a few years back.”

Cousins’ skills and abilities are unquestioned. However, finding the right fit for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s style of play may end up outweighing the talent that Cousins brings to the table. Krzyzewski noted the way USA operates lends itself better to more athletic big men like Anthony Davis, Mason Plumlee and even Andre Drummond.

“DeMarcus’ game is different,” Krzyzewski said following practice on Thursday. “So he has an adjustment to make and he’s trying to make it. But also as he grows, we have to look and see, is there something we can do to help in bringing more out of his game? “

Selecting the 12-man roster is not going to be an easy process for USA brass. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA chairman Jerry Colangelo have remained mum on when the first round of cuts will be made.

“We’re gonna take a long look at our bigs,” the Duke head coach added.

A few things are certain, however, about Team USA’s World Cup roster. Davis is the only true big man who is a lock to make the team. He will likely pair with veteran superstar Kevin Durant in the starting frontcourt when Team USA tips off action in Madrid. Unless Kevin Love winds up being a last-minute add, expect to see Indiana’s Paul George playing up front with Durant and Davis.

Team USA will also field a very strong crop of guards. With stars like Stephen Curry, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose in the running to make the team, it’s clear that USA’s strongest assets rest in their backcourt. But, Krzyzewski is well aware that going totally small is not a recipe for success.

“We can press the other countries and they’ll cough it up or whatever,” Krzyzewski said. “(But) these guys – Spain, France, Lithuania, Argentina – that’s not gonna have an impact on them. You have to be able to play possession by possession.”

Where does that leave Cousins? No one is quite sure at this point. All Cousins knows is that he’s done everything he could possibly do here in Vegas. What happens is next is out of his control.

“I came here, did what I can do, controlled what I can control,” Cousins said. “Everything is in their hands so we’ll see what happens from here.”

Roster announced for 2014 USA Basketball Showcase

USA Basketball concludes action in Las Vegas this week with a game tomorrow between players on the national team roster.  The rosters and coaches for both teams can be seen down below.

Blue Roster (Head Coach: Monty Williams)

  • Stephen Curry
  • Anthony Davis
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Kenneth Faried
  • Paul George
  • Gordon Hayward
  • Kyle Korver
  • Mason Plumlee
  • Derrick Rose
  • John Wall

White Roster (Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau)

  • Bradley Beal
  • DeMarcus Cousins
  • Andre Drummond
  • Kevin Durant
  • James Harden
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Damian Lillard
  • Paul Millsap
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Klay Thompson

The 2014 USA Basketball Showcase will be televised on ESPN from Thomas and Mack Center tomorrow night.  Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. PT.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.