He’s not on the roster yet, but 6-foot-7 swingman V.J. King has the ability to bring big things to the table as a freshman next season at Louisville. The soon-to-be class of 2016 graduate committed to play for the Cardinals on June 12.
King was the leading scorer in his first season at Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.) where he averaged 18.5 PPG. Previously, King was at another great high school program at Lebron James’ alma mater St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) where he averaged 16.2 PPG as a sophomore.
Now, heading into his senior season, King is ranked as the No. 16 prospect in the 2016 class, per 247 Sports. He’s looking to help Paul VI to return to the elite after putting together a disappointing 20-15 record a year ago. Matched up with now Cal freshman Jaylen Brown, King had 12 points and eight rebounds in the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, FL last December. He also had 27 points and 11 rebounds in the fifth-place final game.
King, a five-star commit chose Louisville over 16 other schools that had offers out to him, including Kentucky, Arizona, Virginia and Connecticut. He’s played as a member of USA Basketball since 2012 and this summer he was on the Nike’s EYBL circuit for D.C.-based outfit Team Takeover where former Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson coached.
“You know, nothing’s given, so hopefully I can come in and work hard,” King told the Courier-Journal. “I wanted to play in (the ACC), the best conference in the nation. When it comes down to it, it just feels like it was the best fit for me and the best situation for me to be in.”
When King officially enrolls at Louisville next year, he’ll have 15th-year Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino on his side. Pitino and Louisville are fresh off of an Elite Eight appearance after finishing 27-9 last season.
Overall, the Cardinals have advanced to the tournament in 12 of the 14 seasons since Pitino took over in 2001. Louisville captured the title in 2012 and advanced to the Final Four in 2004 and 2011 and to the Elite Eight in 2007 and 2008.
King will join a 2015 class that includes four-star commits, guard Donovan Mitchell, small forward Deng Adel and power forward Raymond Spalding. The Cards only have two players departing after this season in seniors Damion Lee and Trey Lewis.
However, all four players who averaged 10 PPG or more in 2014 are gone. Sophomore guard Quentin Snider, who averaged 4.1 PPG in 16.4 MPG is the highest scorer back from last season.
Pitino will have to rely on his young guys now more than ever and when King joins the mix in 2016, the team will be more developed and he’ll fit right into the system.
Paul VI head coach Glenn Farello told Scout.com that Louisville’s ability to develop guards is going to help King a lot and it’s a great fit. Farello also alluded to King’s high basketball IQ and the fact that he understands what it takes to win.
Louisville probably wishes they could pluck King out of a high school a year early and have him for this season since he’s that talented. However, they’ll have to wait to get the playmaker who can play at a high level on both sides of the ball until next season.
When King finally arrives at the KFC Yum! Center watch out. He’ll immediately propel Louisville into the race for the national championship.