Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger continues to add talented high school prospects. When combo guard Isaiah Cousins signed on Wednesday, he became the third high school guard added to a mix that should produce a competitive camp this fall.
One of the top targets in the late signing period, Cousins committed to the Sooners two weeks ago. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., product officially signed on the first day of the spring signing period.
Cousins has played both point guard and shooting guard.
“Most importantly is Isaiah is really passionate about being at (OU),” Kruger said. “He's a young guy who brings a lot to the floor offensively. He's a really good teammate who makes players around him more effective. ... He can shoot well and has a really good feel on the defensive end, too.”
Named “Mr. Basketball” in New York's Section 1, Cousins averaged 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals a game in leading Mount Vernon High School to a 23-3 record after winning the state title his junior year.
Year 2 under Kruger will feature a veteran team that will be re-energized by an incoming class highlighted by high basketball IQ guards projected to provide elements that were missing last season.
Cousins is similar to Buddy Hield, a guard who signed in November.
Include Jelon Hornbeak, who also signed in the early signing period, and three top-100 freshman guards will provide an element that was sorely missed last season — guards capable of scoring from the perimeter. More importantly, they're players that can score crashing into the lane.
“Oklahoma is getting a 6-foot-4 guard who likes to attack the rim and attack people with his body while doing so,” said 18-year Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino. “He can also shoot the 3 and can get into the paint kind of at will.”
Cousins was offered primarily by mid-majors his junior season before a Tri-State scout recommended Cousins to participate in Nike's “Breakfast Club” workouts organized for elite talent in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
He seized the opportunity. Offers came pouring in.
Cousins chose the Sooners over Connecticut, Xavier, Virginia Tech, Dayton and other schools.
“He's the ultimate gym rat,” Cimmino said. “Isaiah is probably the most improved player I've coached in my tenure at Mount Vernon. He's always had a great work ethic. But something just clicked the last year. As a result his talent escalated off the charts.”
Slightly undersized at 180 pounds, Cousins will benefit this summer from being in strength and conditioning coach Jozsef Szendrei's offseason program.
“He got better and better and became a dominant force in our games,” Cimmino said. “He only knows how to play at one particular level and that's hard. Isaiah takes no plays off. He works equally hard on both ends of the court.”
Three freshmen guards and Sperry power forward C.J. Cole, a member of The Oklahoman's Super Five, join a veteran team that has some nice pieces. Romero Osby, Amath M'Baye, Andrew Fitzgerald, Sam Grooms and Cameron Clark all have starting experience.