DeMarcus Cousins doesn't mind admitting when his mother is right. And he says she was right about him not always playing his hardest in high school because he was not always challenged by smaller, less talented players.
"She is right. At the high school I was bigger, better and stronger. It was just hard to play at your best because you didn't have to. It came so easy. I would try to just turn it on and sometimes I couldn't. I struggled sometimes with that. That's a habit that is being broke. With our team so good here, you have to come to play every day," said the 6-11 Kentucky freshman. "This is good for me. You can't come out loafing or laid back. You better come to play every time"
His mother, Monique, deserves much of the credit for pushing him to realize he could be a gifted basketball player. He was one of the nation's top prep players last year and has been projected as a potential NBA lottery pick next summer.
"Actually my mom is the reason I played ball. I wanted to play football, but I had to stop because I was so tall. I was asked to play AAU basketball, but I was scared to travel. She made me do it. I was mad at her for that," Cousins said.
Scared? A big guy like him scared to travel?
"I didn't know the people, so I didn't want to travel. But she made me go," he laughed and said. "Me and my mom have always been close. When you live with somebody, you love her. Sometimes she is my best friend, too. I miss her always. I don't call her all the time now. I need some separation, but she knows I miss her. She will be here for games and if it wasn't for her making me travel all those years ago, I probably wouldn't be here now."
Instead, Cousins developed into a premier player in Alabama who averaged 24.1 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 3.2 blocked shots and 5.1 steals per game last year. He earned Parade and McDonald's All-American honors.