UK Men's Basketball

Cousins on UK: 'I could stay here forever'

It's difficult to visualize a 6-foot-11, 270-pound man as an uncertain baby bird being pushed from its nest.

But that's how DeMarcus Cousins seemed to describe the process of making the decision to leave Kentucky after one season and head to the NBA.

He said it was Coach John Calipari pushing him from the comfortable, feathery nest that is Kentucky basketball.

"Cal's pushing me away," Cousins said on Thursday. "He said, 'You've got to go.'

"We felt it was the best decision for me. Right now my stock is high and they believed it was time for me to go."

In a 15-minute session with members of the media, Cousins discussed a vast array of topics from his decision to turn pro and hire agent John Greig, to his love for all things Kentucky, to why a fancy car won't be his first purchase with his new NBA salary.

In the back of the room Calipari and several assistants and basketball staff members watched the news conference.

Cousins, the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Year and an Associated Press first-team All-American, said it's people like them and his teammates that make him want to stay at UK indefinitely.

"It's the love here," Cousins said. "I could stay here forever. ... I wanted to stay to help the team keep winning. It was a hard decision."

Cousins said there has been little to no discussion about turning pro among him and teammates Patrick Patterson, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton.

When a group of them get together, talk usually turns to the 73-66 loss to West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament East Regional finals.

It was a game where the Cats struggled to shoot. He said not getting an NCAA championship "eats at me every day.

"I wish we could just play it again, but we can't," he said.

What do the players think they could have done differently in that game, Cousins was asked.

"We could have just made two shots," he said.

Cousins said he wanted to win for Kentucky, a place he barely knew a year ago when he arrived on campus from Mobile, Ala., but now a place that's making it difficult to leave.

He is sticking around to finish the semester, he added.

"I'll never forget this part of my life," Cousins said. "It's one of the most precious times I've ever had. I've never been accepted like this. I felt love from day one."

Cousins, known for donning a wide variety of strange hats and big glasses, felt loved and embraced at Kentucky, he said.

"Goofiness became popular," he said.

The center, who said he's hearing that he could go anywhere from top five to top 10 in the draft, said he's looking forward to playing in the NBA.

"It has to be one of the greatest jobs ever," he said. "I'm getting to do what I love to do."

He was asked what he planned to buy first with his NBA wealth.

"Whatever my mom wants," Cousins said.

But when asked if there was anything that he had his eye on, he smiled.

"It's not a car because I don't have a license," he said, adding that "eventually" he'll probably get one.

When he does one day, he'll definitely be making return trips to his nest in Lexington.

"I'll be here a lot," he said.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader