CHICAGO — Former Kentucky big man DeMarcus Cousins and other top prospects for next month's NBA Draft came here this week to be interviewed by pro teams, undergo medical exams and participate in non-competitive drills.
Cousins' reputation preceded him. He told reporters during media interview sessions that NBA officials have asked him about his level of maturity and his dedication to fitness. In essence, the NBA wants to know how risky it would be to make a multi-million investment in Cousins as a top draft pick.
Here's an edited question-and-answer session with Cousins:
Question: You came to UK with the reputation as a player who needed to control his emotions. You had five technical fouls and were involved in several other incidents in which referees checked the sideline monitor to determine what, if any, punishment should be imposed. How do you feel having your maturity questioned?
Answer: It doesn't bug me at all because I expect it. That's been the big question all year. That's the main question I'm looking for. I want them to ask me so I can tell them the truth.
Q: What is the truth?
A: I'm not that type of person. ... I'm still a work in progress.
Q: Do NBA teams ask about the public disagreements you had with UK Coach John Calipari during games?
A: I'm hearing that question in every interview.
Q: How do you answer that question?
A: I tell them the truth. We were allowed to give feedback. That's how we were.
Q: How do the team officials react to that explanation?
A: Some coaches are, like, 'OK.' Some are, like, 'What if some coach you play for doesn't allow (feedback)?' Well, I just have to play.
Q: How do you feel about the perception that you're uncoachable?
A: It doesn't bother me. Playing for Cal is very tough. Everybody knows he's a very emotional coach and you have to play through it.
Q: What do you think about playing for Cal on an NBA team?
A: (Pause) I'm not answering that.
Q: How does it feel to be examined and poked at during these interview sessions with NBA teams?
A: That's how it was at Kentucky. We were a professional team.
Q: Has your size led people to believe you should be more mature than your age would suggest?
A: In high school, the average adult, they looked at me like I'm a man and I'm 14, 15 years old.
Q: That may be true, but the questions about maturity don't surround, say, former Georgetown big man Greg Monroe. So is it simply that you're immature?
A: Do I come across that way?
Q: On the court, absolutely.
A: I'm not going to be out there with a smile, just a happy guy. I'm out there to handle business.
Q: You look fitter. Are you in better shape?
A: I'm on a diet. Salads and seafood. Seafood is my favorite food.
Q: What seafood do you like?
A: Everything. Everything that comes out of the water.
Q: Who should be the first overall pick?
A: If I was a GM, me. ... I do believe I can be a franchise player.
Q: Your agent, John Greig, has touted you as a viable choice as the first overall pick. How important is that to you?
A: It's very important to me. I appreciate my agent pushing me like that. I believe every agent should push their player like that. That's my main goal. I want to be the No. 1 player in the draft.
Q: Why is that important?
A: I don't want to sit here and say I want to be the third pick or the fourth pick. Everybody here wants to be the No. 1 pick.