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Cousins Continues Ascent Toward Dominance

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Cousins Continues Ascent Toward Dominance

See how DeMarcus Cousins ranks among his fellow 2010 NBA draftees. Plus, find out which member of the Kings plans to join Sacramento’s big man at 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend.

“I plan on being a dominant big man.”

Heading into the 2011-12 season, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins shared the aforementioned statement with fans during a Media Day live chat on Kings.com.

On Wednesday, Cousins further solidified his place amongst ascending NBA talent as he was named to the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which will be held on Friday, Feb. 24 during All-Star Weekend in Orlando, Fla.

Sacramento’s big man currently leads all NBA sophomores in rebounds (11.5 RPG) and double-doubles (17), ranks third in scoring (15.3 PPG), second in blocks (1.38 BPG) and fifth in field-goal percentage (44.8). Among all NBA players, No. 15 is third in double-doubles and fifth in rebounding.

Kings captain Chuck Hayes sees Cousins as a teammate who’s rapidly improving and a valuable asset to the team.

“He’s learning. He’s soaking it all in. His maturity as a professional – everything about him – his attitude, everything is getting better,” Hayes said.” It’s exactly what we need.”

Kings Coach Keith Smart echoes Hayes’ sentiment on Cousins and thinks with more work, the Kentucky product could graduate to Sunday’s All-Star Game.

“One thing he does extremely well right now is rebound the basketball. He can shoot the basketball. He’s a willing passer,” Smart says. “Now we have to refine his game around the low post, so where he is not exposing the basketball and things like that, but I think over time, he’ll get (to an All-Star level).”

Smart says he plans on being in attendance for the Rising Stars Challenge in support of Sacramento’s big man.

“It’s always a positive for any of our guys to get a chance to be out there,” the Kings coach says. “I want (him) to know I am confident with the path (he’s) on. I want to be there when guys are selected for certain things. I want to be there in support of our team.”

Cousins had a game-high 33 points and team-high 14 rebounds en route to the Rookies’ 148-140 victory over the Sophomores during last year’s Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam in in L.A.

Under a new format, the Rising Stars Challenge will find Cousins playing with a mix of players from his Draft class and rookies from the 2011 NBA Draft. NBA on TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will serve as general managers – picking two nine-man teams from a combined group of 18 pre-selected rookies and sophomores. Barkley and O’Neal will select the teams on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. PST on NBATV.

The lead assistants for the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs will act as head coaches for Team Chuck and Team Shaq, while TNT analysts Mike Fratello and Steve Kerr will assist on the sidelines for the two respective squads.

Cousins is the 10th Sacramento Kings player to play in the event since its inception in 1994. This year also marks the third-straight season a Kings player has been featured in the game.

Former Kings players selected for the Rookie-Sophomore game include Bobby Hurley, Brian Grant, Michael Smith, Tyus Edney, Michael “Yogi” Stewart, Jason Williams and Hedo Turkoglu.

WATCH: Highlights of DeMarcus Cousins from the 2011NBA Rookie Challenge

WATCH: DeMarcus Cousins Rookie Challenge All Access

Tune-In: Catch Cousins live in the 2012 Rising Stars Challenge at 6 p.m. PST on Friday, Feb. 24 on TNT.

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