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Rookies, Sophomores Prep for Showdown

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The League’s top first- and second-year players practiced on the morning of the 2011 Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam at NBA All-Star Weekend.

While Kings guard Tyreke Evans sat on the sidelines nursing a foot injury (plantar fasciitis, left foot), he expressed excitement at being in Los Angeles for the midseason festivities. DeMarcus Cousins, joyful and at ease on and off the court, ended practice by throwing alley-oop passes to former collegiate teammate and current Washington Wizards guard John Wall.

Kings.com had the chance to catch up with Evans, players from both teams and a pair of former All-Star participants to get their thoughts on Sacramento’s up-and-coming duo.

Kings guard Tyreke Evans

On the best part about All-Star Weekend:

“Just the fun atmosphere — it’s the one time you see all the guys together for a week. It’s All-Star Weekend, and I just want to go out there and enjoy it.”

On his return to the court:

“I see the doctor on Monday, and we’ll go from there. Hopefully I’ll be back as soon as possible.”

Prediction for Cousins in the Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam:

“I think he can get 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds). I know what he can do, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. But I don’t want him to get the win — I’m with the sophomores, and hopefully we’ll get the win at the end of the day.”

Kings legend and current NBA analyst Chris Webber

On his impression of Cousins:

“The thing that gave me the (greatest) confidence in Cousins — that he’s going to be great and keep getting better — is that (Kings assistant coach Pete Carril) is not one to throw out compliments. Coach Carril really helped my career, and I respect him as much as any coach, and he told me himself that (Cousins) is the most talented guy he’s seen. Even though that hurt my feelings, I believe him because he doesn’t just throw that out there.”

Comparing Cousins to other NBA greats:

“He’s a combination of a lot of different players. He’s not the most athletic, but he can finish. He’ll dunk on you. He has a great jump shot. He has a lot of different skills, and once he just figures them all out, he’s going to be hard to stop.”

On Evans’ development:

“Tyreke, as Kobe (Bryant) said, “has grown-man game,” and I think it’s the biggest compliment you can give him. He just does it all, and I love the fact (Sacramento) has two young guys, cornerstones, to build around for a long time. I love both of those guys.”

Wizards guard John Wall

His impression of Cousins as a pro:

“All (rookies) will have ups and downs — sometimes we’ll play (well), sometimes we’ll play (poorly) — but we’re right there guiding each other through the entire time. You see when (Cousins) is dominant, he’s (capable of) averaging 27 points and 13 rebounds, so he can be a big force in the League if he just keeps working.”

Warriors guard Stephen Curry

On playing against Evans:

“He’s a great player. We’re in the same Draft class, and we battled for the Rookie of the Year award last year. I think for us both being in the same division, having that Sacramento-Golden State rivalry is kind of cool. We definitely have fun when we play against each other because the games are always electric and energizing.”

On facing Cousins:

“He’s playing well. He’s such a dominant player down low. For a guy who has that much talent, he’s definitely doing something with it.”

Nets forward Derrick Favors

On playing with Cousins:

“DeMarcus is a good player, a good guy to be around and a great teammate. This will probably be our second time playing together on the same team.”

On his rivalry with Cousins:

“I wouldn’t call it a rivalry — we’ve had a friendly battle. Our AAU teams played against each other and our high school teams played against each other a lot. We were two of the top players in our class, so (we) wanted to see who’s better.”

On guarding Cousins:

“He’s big, he’s skilled, he can shoot and he has good footwork, so it’s tough. If you’re not a good defensive player, he’s going to get you.”

Former NBA star and current NBA analyst Brent Barry

Impression of Cousins:

“I had a chance to see DeMarcus Cousins last summer in (Las Vegas Summer League), and I was really impressed with some of the things he’s able to do. A guy that young and that size having the phenomenal skill set that he has, makes him very intriguing.”

Stay current with Kings.com/as11 for continuing Kings All-Star Weekend coverage including behind-the-scenes photos, videos and more!

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