DeMarcus Cousins, the highest rated uncommitted big man in the Class of 2009, has committed to the University of Memphis.
Cousins, ranked No. 2 overall by Rivals.com and No. 4 by ESPNU, took the college world by surprise with an unofficial visit to Memphis this weekend. He further stunned everyone by committing on the spot.
His mother, Monique Cousins, told Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, “Just basically, he came and looked at the school and he’s always had an interest in Memphis. So we talked, we sat at the table and had a meeting. Everyone was there and he and the family made the decision that he was ready to commit.”
DeMarcus was frustrated with how lesser high school teams would defend him with as many as four players. This impacted his final college choice. Note Wolken’s additional comments:
“(I) watched Cousins’ high school team lose in the Alabama state semifinals to a team from Birmingham Parker that committed to send four guys around Cousins every time he got the ball. Cousins got really, really frustrated...He’s counting on that not happening next season on a team with three really good shooters like Xavier Henry, Roburt Sallie and Darnell Dodson out on the wings.”
Memphis now claims the undisputed No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
In addition to Cousins, the Tigers have already inked top-three prospect Xavier Henry (No. 3 Rivals, No. 1 ESPNU), another top-50 wing player in Nolan Dennis from Richland, Texas and a duo of junior college All-America candidates: low post monster Will Coleman and smooth-shooting Darnell Dodson, teammates at Miami Dade JC.
Cousins is a first for John Calipari since he arrived at Memphis—a dominant low-post scorer with tremendous skills. DeMarcus can put the ball on the floor like a small forward and is a splendid passer for a young man his size (6’10”, 260 pounds).
Memphis is also prominently in the race for the two best point guards still on the board, John Wall, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country, and Eric Bledsoe. The Tigers will in all likelihood lose current freshman point guard Tyreke Evans to the NBA draft.
The signing leaves the scholarship of mercurial big man Matt Simpkins in doubt. The freshman from Oakland was dismissed from the Memphis program because of repeated breaking of team rules.
Though the door was cracked for his return, Cousins’ signing, along with the arrival of Coleman and the probable return of improving junior post man Shawn Taggart, likely slams the door shut.
Calipari will have serious decisions to make regarding his roster. With only three seniors, Evans, and Simpkins leaving, he will have to make room for three freshmen (Cousins, Dennis and Henry), a sophomore (Dodson), a junior (Coleman) and Xavier’s older brother, C. J. Henry.
The elder Henry will be classified as a freshman, though he is 22 years old. He will not take a scholarship, as the New York Yankees are contractually obligated to pay for his return to college.
The other wild card in the Memphis scholarship situation is freshman forward Angel Garcia (6’11”, 210). Garcia graduated from East Chicago High School but also prepped in his home country of Puerto Rico. The NCAA Clearinghouse did not approve of some of his transcripts and ruled him ineligible to play as a freshman.
Garcia remains in class at Memphis and is on track to be eligible next season. He, too, would be classified as a freshman in 2009-10. He has not yet decided if he will stay at Memphis or seek a transfer elsewhere.
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