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Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins excited about Summer Olympics, next season

DeMarcus Cousins gives area children chance to be King for day

Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins opened for 200 area kids at his annual his annual youth basketball camp at Sacramento High. Along with a staff of helpers, kids got to mingle with the Kings' star center while learning the fundamentals of
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Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins opened for 200 area kids at his annual his annual youth basketball camp at Sacramento High. Along with a staff of helpers, kids got to mingle with the Kings' star center while learning the fundamentals of

When Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins arrived at Sacramento High School on Thursday, he believed he was doing his job.

At the DeMarcus Cousins Elite Skills Basketball Camp – free for the 200 youngsters – he wasn’t just making an appearance. He believes he has a responsibility to help lift the community, especially after the recent shooting death of Sac High football player Deston Garrett just days before graduation.

“You hate to lose a life, especially a young kid,” Cousins said. “There’s a lot of opportunity out there; it’s just about believing in yourself and going out and doing it.

“I hate that it happened. It’s just a bad situation. Those things shouldn’t be happening. I think we all should step up and try to prevent those situations from even happening. I believe it’s on us as adults, as leaders of the community, as leaders for the kids.”

Cousins arrived at Thursday’s camp after his morning workout, a new program that is showing results as he prepares for the Summer Olympics and the 2016-17 season. Cousins, who has lost about 20 pounds since the end of the season, appears ready to lead Team USA to a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro and end the Kings’ 10-year playoff drought.

“I’m a bit lighter than I’ve been (in) any of my previous years,” he said. “The pace of the of the game has picked up a lot, and I’ve got to be able to fit in. Also, my role changes a lot for Team USA. ... I’m also trying to prepare my body for that.”

Cousins also hopes being lighter will help prevent injuries. He was bothered last season by tendinitis in both feet.

“That’s also part of it,” he said. “A lot less pressure on my feet. It’s a new type of working out.”

Since the end of the season, Cousins has had four shock-wave treatments to alleviate pain in his feet. He said he feels good and is looking forward to Team USA training camp next month.

“I’m very excited,” Cousins said. “I’ve always wanted to be on the Olympic team, and I’ve finally got the chance.”

Cousins is equally excited about the Kings’ prospects for next season. The Kings entered last season believing they could make the playoffs, but they went 33-49, which still was the best record in Cousins’ six seasons.

“I think we’ve made enough mistakes in our past and learned from them,” Cousins said. “I think we’re all starting to figure it out, from top to bottom, what’s really required to make this thing work. We’re at a stage now where it’s just putting the pieces together and moving forward.”

Cousins will play for his sixth coach after Dave Joerger was hired to replace George Karl. Cousins and Joerger recently met at a driving range in Las Vegas, and Cousins said he “killed Coach” in a competition.

“I don’t get too caught up in the bonding and being great friends (with the coach),” Cousins said. “We talked about that, but it’s not about that. It’s about being on the same page; it’s about coming out and doing what’s best for the team.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

Busy big man

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins won’t have much time to relax this summer:

TEAM USA

  • Training: July 18-22, Las Vegas; July 23-25, Los Angeles; July 26, Oakland; July 27-29, Chicago; July 30-Aug. 1, Houston
  • Exhibitions: July 22 vs. Argentina in Las Vegas; July 24 vs. China in Los Angeles; July 26 vs. China in Oakland; July 29 vs. Venezuela in Chicago; Aug. 1 vs. Nigeria in Houston

SUMMER OLYMPICS

  • Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • When: Aug. 6-21
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