Weight to Carry

Once upon a time, not even a year ago in fact, Demarco Cox was a two-sport standout for Yazoo City High School in Yazoo City, Miss.

At 6-foot-8 and well over 300 pounds, Cox played both basketball and football.

However, football, at least to Cox, was more of a leisure activity. He didn't begin playing the sport until ninth grade. Basketball was his sport.

But he was big. He was strong. More than anything, he was gifted athletically for his size.

Cox, obviously, was an offensive lineman in high school. Sure, he dabbled on the defensive side, but college scouts were calling and sending letters because of his ability at tackle. By his senior year, he was one of the more sought-after linemen in Mississippi, rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com.

"A lot of people tell me that if I want to make a good living, I need to stick with football," Cox said in September of 2009. "They think my size and athleticism will take me further in football than in basketball."

Demarco Cox

Scholarship offers were rolling in. Alabama called. Same for LSU and Arkansas. Both in-state schools, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, showed interest as well.

But only one school, Ole Miss, offered a scholarship in basketball. A center in high school, Cox averaged 17.5 points per game and 9.9 rebounds as a senior. He figured he could make a living in basketball, too. So Cox jumped at the opportunity.

There was risk involved. Cox was entering a program known for its fast-paced offensive style under head coach Andy Kennedy. But, again, Cox's passion was basketball. It's the only sport he wanted to play at the next level.

He had to lose weight, though. When he arrived at Ole Miss in June, Cox tipped the scales at 323 pounds. He had to go to work. His presence was needed, considering Ole Miss lacked depth in the front court.

He would have to contribute.

"He has the highest work capacity for any high school big I've ever been associated with," Kennedy said. "Incredible worker. Incredible drive."

Some six months later, and with Ole Miss eight games into its season, Cox is down to 295 pounds. His freshman season isn't off to a great start stat-wise, but he's at least playing meaningful minutes. He averages nearly 10 minutes a game.

His most extensive action came Monday in a 101-69 win over Mississippi Valley State. Cox had 10 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.

"He's got a pretty good presence offensively," Kennedy said of Cox. "I think you saw a little bit of his athleticism (against MVSU). He's a pretty athletic kid. He's going to be a tremendous player for us.

Andy Kennedy

"He's a hard worker. He's a great kid. He continues to work every day, and his role will increase with productivity."

Cox said he's more comfortable now. He has less weight to carry – literally.

"I feel way better than I normally feel," Cox said. "With the weight on, I barely can move. I can move, but I can't move at the college pace. Since I've got some of that weight off, I can kind of stick in with the big college players that play like 230 and 240. I can stick in with them."

His game is coming along, too. He was far more assertive against Mississippi Valley State, mainly because he was staying out of foul trouble. Cox said, due to his size, he is more susceptible to ticky-tack foul calls.

"That's the only place I like to be at – around the basket and scoring," Cox said. "In practice, (Coach Kennedy) always tells me about the little body fouls I've been getting. Every time a player goes to the basket and I hit him with my upper body, they're going to call a foul, because I'm so big. I'm bigger than everybody."

To Kennedy, Cox's ideal playing weight is 280. Cox is committed to getting there.

"I've been basically getting cardio in every day now," he said. "I'm losing the weight fast, like I was during the summertime."

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