Just before the National Championship game tipped on Monday night, I connected with Mount Vernon’s Isaiah Cousins about his commitment to Oklahoma.
The 6-foot-4, 181-pound senior picked the Sooners last Wednesday when he was in Norman on an official visit. Coach Bob Cimmino said his point guard fell in love with the school in a story that ran in last Thursday’s Journal News and here on LoHud.com.
That much was obvious. Cousins, who averaged 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game as a senior, left for Oklahoma less than 24 hours after his final high school game. The two-time state champ never even visited his four other finalists: UConn, Virginia Tech, Xavier and Dayton.
The commitment generated a buzz among the program’s current and former players and coaches because it meant Cousins will face former teammate Jabarie Hinds twice per season. Hinds will be a sophomore point guard at West Virginia, which is set to join the Sooners in the Big 12 this fall.
It also marked the first time Mount Vernon graduate Lew Hill had successfully signed a recruit from his alma mater. In this case, his influence definitely had an impact.
“I think it helped a lot, with Lew walking in the same shoes Isaiah did, growing up in Mount Vernon, knowing the people in Mount Vernon, knowing the transformation Isaiah would have to encounter,” Cimmino said. “I feel really good about it. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure on coach Lew Hill to make Isaiah special.”
Below, in his voice, are the reasons why Cousins committed to Oklahoma and what he envisions for the future.
Q and A: COUSINS ON OKLAHOMA —
So why did you choose Oklahoma?
“Coach (Lon) Kruger has a lot of experience coaching a lot of pros and I liked the team. I enjoyed playing with the team. They showed me a lot of love. I liked the campus and they can offer a pretty good education there, too.”
Oklahoma was your first visit and there was some surprise that you committed so quickly. Did you know beforehand that you were going to commit?
“I knew in the back of my mind. They were going to give me a chance to play as a freshman.”
What did the coaching staff tell you?
“That if I keep working hard, I could receive some minutes right away.”
You said you wanted to play point guard. What do the coaches expect your role to be?
“At point guard.”
Had you seriously planned on visiting other schools?
“I was probably going to visit Virginia Tech.”
You had a lot of options and had other visits to take, so why did you commit so quickly?
“I just wanted to work out and get ready for college. I wanted (the decision) over with.”
How much of an influence was assistant coach Lew Hill on your commitment?
“That made me a lot more comfortable. He’s from Mount Vernon. I also have a good relationship with coach Kruger.”
What did coach Hill tell you about the transition from Mount Vernon to Oklahoma?
“He said it would be good for me. Sometimes, it’s good to go away from your hometown. I wanted to get away.”
You and Jabarie have had plenty of battles over the years. What are your feelings about playing him twice a year?
“We’re going to be back at it again.”