DeMarcus Cousins pleased about second go-around with USA Basketball following mini-camp day 3

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LAS VEGAS – The Team USA experience is nearing an end for DeMarcus Cousins.  USA Basketball wrapped up day three of its mini-camp in Las Vegas today and by all accounts, the Sacramento Kings center is happy with his showing this summer.

“It’s been fun,” Cousins said today.  “It’s been great competition.  We’ve been in here working hard, having fun.  It’s been a good experience so far overall.”

Below, a rundown of what was seen and heard during today’s practice.

  • Last year’s USA Basketball experience didn’t go as smoothly as Cousins would have liked.  However, this summer has been a completely different story for the Kings’ big man.  “I didn’t take last year for granted either,” the 22-year-old center said. “But at the same time I mean, I believe this is the better experience just overall.  But it’s been fun.”
  • With coaches like Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Monty Williams and Tom Thibodeau running the show, Cousins has had a chance to work with some of basketball’s brightest minds.  FIBA’s style of play is night and day compared to the NBA, but is there anything Cousins has learned that he can take back with him to Sacramento?  “I mean like I said, this game is kind of different,” Cousins said. “Since we’ve been here, we’re not playing our regular roles.  So I mean at the same time, you kind of learn how to play without the ball more, you know what I’m saying?  So, I can say I have learned something from it.”
  • The Kings organization has been out in full force in Vegas the last two days, supporting the 22-year-old center’s participation with USA Basketball.  After Vivek Ranadivé visited yesterday,  Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, assistant GM Mike Bratz, director of player personnel Shareef Abdur-Rahim as well as owners Mark Mastrov and Mitch Richmond were spotted at today’s practice.  Former Warriors GM Chris Mullin, who has been assisting the franchise in an external role, was also in attendance.
  • Cousins has a realistic shot of making the 2014 World Championships roster and perhaps the Olympics in 2016.  D’Alessandro sees the opportunity for the 22-year-old big man to represent his country as a “tremendous” chance for growth.  “One of my close friends is Chris Mullin, he talks about when he was with the original Dream Team,” D’Alessandro said. “He was already a pro and already at that level, but how it even brought more depth to his game and depth to him as a professional.”
  • Earlier in the week, Kentucky coach John Calipari raved about how being around other great players and influential figures would be good for Cousins’ development.  D’Alessandro echoed that sentiment today.  “You look at the people involved in USA Basketball, the class that’s involved,” D’Alessandro said.  “When I talk about class, people like Jerry Colangelo running it, look at all these great coaches. How is that not a great thing for a young player. All of these guys, it’s such a great opportunity for them.”
  • This week in Vegas has also given Cousins a chance to work an eclectic group of talented players.  Larry Sanders has never played alongside a big man as talented and as skilled as Cousins, but the Milwaukee Bucks big man has become a fan of Cousins’ game. “I love Big Cuz man,” Sanders said.  “I love Big Cuz.  I think he’s a great player.  I think he has some kinks he has to work out, as do I.  But we’re still young and as long as we’re going in the right direction, I think everything will be be fine.”
  • Anthony Davis is another active, shot-blocking big man that Cousins doesn’t normally get to play with.  As Kentucky alums, the New Orleans Pelicans power forward has relished the opportunity to compete alongside and against the Kings’ starting center.  “He’s been very impressive,” Davis said.  “(He’s) getting better.  He’s making me better, I’m making him better, so that’s always great when two guys can make each other better.  And I love going against DeMarcus, he’s much stronger than me so it gives me a chance to see what I need to work on and I’m trying to help him do the same thing.”
  • Cousins and the rest of the almost 30 players invited to participate in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp will finish things up tomorrow with an intersquad scrimmage at the Thomas and Mack Center.  The rosters are listed below.

USA Blue Team

  • 46 – Harrison Barnes
  • 36 – DeMarcus Cousins
  • 42 – Anthony Davis
  • 41 – DeMar DeRozan
  • 37 – Derrick Favors
  • 31 – Gordon Hayward
  • 22 – Damian Lillard
  • 62 – Greg Monroe
  • 34 – Klay Thompson
  • 51 – Dion Waiters
  • 26 – Kemba Walker
  • 50 – John Wall

Coach: Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls

USA White Team

  • 24 – Ryan Anderson
  • 20 – Mike Conley
  • 25 – Andre Drummond
  • 33 – Kenneth Faried
  • 29 – Paul George
  • 27 – Jrue Holiday
  • 23 – Kyrie Irving
  • 35 – DeAndre Jordan
  • 32 – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
  • 21 – Ty Lawson
  • 39 – Chandler Parsons
  • 38 – Tyler Zeller

Coach: Monty Williams, New Orleans Pelicans

James Ham also contributed to this post.

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