Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Alissa Noe at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
When redshirt sophomore George King decided to sit out last year to better advance his game, the move confused many fans. But after his breakout performance in the University of Colorado’s game against Iowa State last Friday, it’s clear that his decision ultimately paid off.
“Well, what fueled it was me realizing that I’m already a pretty good player and I can kind of be myself, a better player by getting a year off and just working on my game and picking up stuff on the mental aspect as well as the physical, and I did,” King said.
During Friday night’s game, King came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points while adding six defensive rebounds. The Cyclones didn’t know what hit them.
King said that, after Colorado’s loss to their No. 7-ranked opponents, two of the opposing players complimented him on the way he, specifically, performed.
“I was talking to (Abdel Nader) and Naz Long,” King said. “When Nader came up to me first, he was like, ‘Man, coach didn’t tell us you could shoot. As a matter of fact, you weren’t even on our scouting report.’ So they didn’t know what to think of me when they saw me as a player out there.”
But that’s the thing. Even though the redshirt sophomore only averaged 1.5 points per game in the 2013-14 season, King’s always been able to shoot well. At first glance, the numbers don’t exactly attest to that fact, but you can’t forget that he also managed to score in double digits in two games, with 10 and 11 points.
In the end, it all really boiled down the quickness of the game.
“He could always shoot the ball, he just needed to get the reps and the speed at which we play. That just needed to catch up,” said Associate Head Coach Jean Prioleau. “He was releasing it probably a little too slow when he first got here, but I think now that he understands the pace at which we play, he’s getting it off quicker.”
You also have to keep in mind that he only averaged 5.5 minutes a game.
In his year off, King learned how to approach basketball from an entirely new perspective, which he believes helped him grow not only as a player but also as a teammate.
“I’ve seen the game from the coaches’ standpoint from sitting on the bench,” King said. “A lot of times I’d just been playing, playing, playing and not really been noticing ball movement. And so that whole year sitting out I’d just seen the ball move and knowing how the ball needs to be moved. I just picked up a lot of mental maturity which allowed me to slow the game down for me.”
His year off certainly helped him adjust to Boyle’s system, there’s no doubt about it.
“I just told him that I think it would be the best thing that can happen because you get to sit out for a year, you get to be in every single practice, understand the system without just being thrown out there maybe as a sophomore, a true sophomore. He had a year to watch what we do and I think that’s helped him,” Prioleau said.
Throughout the weeks leading up to the start of the season, Boyle said over and over again that he believes King has grown well as a player and will be the “x-factor” on the team this year.
“George is certainly a weapon and a matchup issue for opposing teams because he has a skill set that can really make it difficult for the opponent,” Boyle said. “He’s so big and strong as a perimeter [player]. He can get them to the rim and even post them up and overpower them. He can take big guys away from the basket.”
He wore his enthusiasm about King’s game on his sleeve and, after Iowa State, it’s not hard to see why.
“I’m really excited about George and I’m glad we have him for three more years,” Boyle said. “There was part of me that did not want him to redshirt last year — there was part of him that did not want to redshirt last year, but in the end it’s going to be a great decision much like [forward] Wesley Gordon’s was.”
You can catch King and the Buffaloes next on Tuesday, Nov. 17 as they take on Auburn in enemy territory at 1 p.m., and then on Friday, Nov. 20 when they return to Boulder for their home opener at 7 p.m. against Portland.