Cousin living a dream at Illinois St. (Basketball)

November 17, 2010

Anthony Cousins

Playing NCAA D1 basketball is a dream of every little dribbler. But the reality is few make it, especially from Alaska.

Anchorage’s Anthony Cousin is one of the fortunate.

The 5-foot-11 sophomore guard at Illinois State University appreciates every moment of a journey that has taken him from South High to junior college to the Missouri Valley Conference.

It’s like reaching the mountain top.

“It hit me the first game,” Cousin told me. “I came out during introductions (for the starting lineup) and thousands of fans stood up and cheered. I never had that. I’m just thanking God. I’m finally here.”

Cousin is a newcomer at Illinois State after transferring from Butler Community College in Kansas. There, he was a starting guard on a team that won 29 games and advanced to the national tournament.

The former Alaska player-of-the-year runner-up averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 36 games.

Today he’s a starter with the Redhawks. He made his debut in Sunday’s 92-64 win and delivered 6 points and 3 assists in 21 minutes.

“It’s a big step from junior college,” Cousin said. “The pace is very up-tempo … in junior college I always rushed stuff, but here, my coach, he’s like, ‘Play with poise. Take your time. Slow your mind.’

“I play fast.”

Cousin loves the team’s run-and-gun style that emphasizes control and common sense.

“He gives us freedom,” Cousin said of his head coach. “That’s what I like.”

He also likes playing in a respected conference like the Missouri Valley and playing for a respected coach like Tim Jankovich, who has stops at Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt.

“He has a great history,” Cousin said. “I figured if I played for him he could teach me and hopefully I could move on even farther.”

For now, though, he focus on helping Illinois State win in the MVC, where Cousin joins another Alaska player in Bradley’s Will Egolf of Haines.

They have been thrown into the middle of a heated rivalry, with their first meeting set to tipoff Jan. 26.

“It’ll be the game to watch,” Cousin said with a laugh. “I talk to him every now and then. He’ll hit me up, ‘You better be ready for Bradley.’ It’s going to be a crazy game.”

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