Saturday morning was not the first time Jaleel Cousins had been to the Kings’ practice facility.
It was just the first time he’d visited as part of a job interview.
Cousins, the younger brother of Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, was part of a six-player predraft workout at the facility he knows well. It was Jaleel’s second workout with an NBA team, and he got reacquainted with many people.
Jaleel,a 6-foot-11 center who recently finished his senior season at South Florida, also worked out for the Dallas Mavericks. The NBA draft will be held on Thursday.
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“It was a great feeling,” Jaleel said of his Kings workout. “It’s something different coming out of college and now having to take a bigger step forward. It’s a great opportunity. I’m around great people, and it just motivates me to keep going forward. I have a long way to go, and I’m surrounded by people who are trying to help me get there.”
Jaleel’s road to the NBA will be a lot harder than DeMarcus’, and he’s prepared for that. DeMarcus was one of the nation’s top prep stars and played one season at Kentucky before the Kings drafted him fifth overall in 2010.
Jaleel began taking basketball more seriously later in high school and was a two-star recruit, ending up at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, before transferring to USF for the 2014-15 season.
Jaleel averaged 8.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 25 minutes per game as a senior. He’s now working out in Las Vegas and could play on the Kings’ summer league team.
Kings coach Dave Joerger offered encouragement after the workout, Jaleel said.
“He said, ‘You’re going to get tired of seeing me,’ so I guess that’s a good thing.”
Jaleel admittedly is hard on himself and has a lot to learn. Part of that involves his conditioning. He said he is down to 250 pounds from 305.
Jaleel said he’s willing to play in the summer league or overseas to reach the NBA.
“I’m just going to try to get better and end up back over here,” Jaleel said.
Jaleel said being DeMarcus’ younger brother was harder on him as a youth but that there are advantages as an adult. Few prospects have a sibling who is an All-Star they can call for advice at any time.
Jaleel, however, does not feel entitled because of his brother.
“I have an advantage because of who he is, but at the same time, I can’t come in and be lazy,” Jaleel said. “Nobody is going to give me an opportunity just because of who my brother is. He made his mark, and now it’s time to make mine.”
Jaleel said he is similar to DeMarcus in personality but quieter. On the court, they have very different styles.
“DeMarcus dribbles, shoots; he’s like a big guard,” Jaleel said. “Me, I’m kind of strictly post. I don’t try to dance with the ball as much because I don’t feel too comfortable, so I’d rather give the ball up to the guards and let them do their job.”
Still, that won’t stop the comparisons.
“As soon as somebody sees me shoot the ball, they assume I’m going to look like DeMarcus or play like DeMarcus,” Jaleel said. “I’d say we have similar qualities. Once I get going, you might see flashes of DeMarcus out of me, but at the end of the day I’m still Jaleel.”