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Tuesday / December 18.
  • DeMarcus Cousins Has Top 5; Rice in the Mix

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    DeMarcus Cousins, ranked the No. 1 power forward in his class, is down to a top five.

    The list now includes Memphis, Washington, N.C. State, Kansas State and Rice. No visits are yet planned. The list was first reported by Dave Telep of Scout.

    “There’s no particular order other than Memphis is really strong,” Mobile (Ala.) LeFlore High School coach Otis Hughley said in a phone interview. “Rice sort of climbed in there because of the 14-1 teacher-student ratio. They have real small classrooms. Marcus’ grades are really clmibing and he’s an intelligent kid. He’s got more interest in being a good student than most would give any athlete credit for. That’s really important.”

    Rice is new to the picture, but there are several natural connections. Rice assistant Marco Morcos is from New Jersey, having coached at LEAP Academy in Camden and played at Rutgers-Camden. Hughley was born and raised in Jersey City and played for legendary St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley during the summers. He graduated from Snyder High School in Jersey City in 1982.

    Also, St. Benedict’s Prep guard Tamir Jackson and Cousins were both verbally committed to UAB at one point and the two are close friends. Jackson then decommitted and later signed with Rice, meaning the two could reunite should Cousins select the Houston school.

    “That’s some history,” Hughley said. “That’s a big connection. Both of those guys had initially commmitted to UAB. Those kids talk all the time.”

    Asked if he was working on getting Cousins to Rice, Jackson wrote “Yea” in a text message.

    Hughley said a slew of schools had expressed interest in Cousins since he decommitted from UAB in the wake of not receiving an out clause in his letter of intent.

    “He cut to the five schools and he has quite a few that were really peaking in their interest,” Hughley said. “That shows how far Marcus has been perceived to have come. There’s been a direct correlation with the interest.”

    Still, he said Memphis and Washington were in the strongest.

    “All of them are strong for different reasons,” Hughley said. “Of course Memphis and Washington have probably been in there longer than anybody.”

    Memphis coach John Calipari watched Cousins and LeFlore beat Lance Stephenson and Lincoln at the Hoophall Classic last month in Springfield, Mass.

    “I’m seeing who’s interested in me, but as of right now me and Memphis have the best relationship,” Cousins said last month. “It means a lot. I see that

    [Memphis coach John Calipari] is there and interested in me, and I am interested in them.”

    Xavier Henry, the 6-6 shooting guard out of Oklahoma City Putnam City who is committed to Memphis, is also working on recruiting Cousins.

    “We talk almost every day,” Cousins said of Henry. “[He’s] hyped that

    I’m interested in the school. It will be an honor to play with Xavier.”

    Hughley said he could still see Cousins winding up somewhere else with UAB coach Mike Davis, including potentially Alabama or Georgia.

    “Of course Mike Davis is still in play,” Hughley said. “I don’t know if UAB is still in play. UAB is not out of the picture. If there is a sixth school it imight be UAB because of Mike Davis’s presence. The experience he has taking a team to a Final Four.

    Cousins said he was done with UAB.

    “I have nothing to do with UAB, but I still do have a relationship with Coach Davis,” Cousins said. “If he gets another job, I’ll be considering [that school].”

    Hughley said they were sensitive to coaching changes because of what went down last year at Marquette.

    “There’s a lot of movement every year [with college coaches],” he said. “You never know. We’re just really sensitive becaue of what happened to Nick Williams. Marquette, they were busy trying to find a coach.”

    Williams initially committed to Marquette, as did St. Anthony guard Tyshawn Taylor. But when Tom Crean left and took the Indiana job, both Williams and Taylor decommitted, Williams following Crean to Indiana and Taylor going to Kansas.

    “You do that with a kid like Demarcus Cousins and see what happens,” Hughley said. “It’s not the same.”

    Still, Hughley gave props to Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whose team is the lone undefeated outfit in the brutal Big East.

    “Buzz has done an unbelievable job,” Hughley said. “He’s really solidified himself as a guy that was up to the task.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.