Under Heavy Expectations, V.J. King Earns Place On USA U16 National Team
June 4, 2013 • Colorado Springs, Colo.
Regardless of whether or not V.J. King (Akron, Ohio) earned a spot on the USA U16 National Team, the expectations tossed his way nowadays are uncontrollable.
Uncontrollable because King attends St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, the same high school where 10 years earlier another king was preparing to make his mark on pro basketball.
The other King, you’re probably already familiar with: King James. LeBron James. Arguably, the best basketball player on the planet.
“You know they’re going to give you the comparisons,” V.J. said, ‘Is he as good as LeBron? Does he do what LeBron does?’ (St. Vincent-St. Mary) Coach Dru (Joyce) basically tells me to not get into that stuff. ‘Play your game, you’re here for a reason.”’
King recently completed his freshman season at the basketball powerhouse. Leading his team to a runner-up finish in the Ohio Division II State Tournament, the 16-year-old ended the year averaging a team-high 16.3 points to go along with 3.0 assists 2.0 steals and 4.0 blocks per game. Prior to the season, however, King spoke to James, asking the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player about the pressure he’d likely endure.
“He said, ‘I’m gone. My legacy is over. It’s time for you to start your chapter at this school,”’ King said. “That was good to hear from him.”
As James begins prepping for his third-straight NBA Finals, King is in Colorado Springs, Colo., getting ready to travel to Maldonado, Uruguay, to compete in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
“I’m more excited than nervous,” the 6’6” wing said. “It’s going to be a new experience, going to a new country. It’s not like going to another state. No, I’m going to another country with U-S-A across my chest.
“I’m very excited. I can’t wait.”
King has yet to travel outside the United States. Since he arrived for training camp last Thursday, he said he’s grown in a variety of areas, but none more so than learning how to play alongside elite talent.
“Everybody on this team is either the best on their (high school) team, or the best in their state,” King said. “So it was good to play with the kids around the country and compare your game. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better here.”
Transitioning from being the top player on your high school team to being a player on a team with a specific role isn’t exactly easy.
“It is a little tough because you don’t get a lot of the shots you would like to get,” King said. “You get used to it and get into the mix of it where everybody will play together, and everybody will get theirs, and everybody will look good.”
Starting to play organized basketball at the age of 8 years old, King’s father, Vincent, taught him the game. Later on, Vincent King enjoyed a 10-year playing career overseas in Greece and Italy.
“He always tells me stories about how he didn’t push me to play basketball,” King said of his father. “He wanted me to love it first.”
That love for the sport has deepened over the years, and although King never dreamed of playing USA Basketball as kid, he now has earned the privilege.
“No matter if I play the whole game, or just two minutes,” King said, “I’ll be fine because I’ll be playing for my country.”
That unselfish attitude has St. Vincent-St. Mary’s latest “King” on the right path. And as far as legacy’s are concerned, it appears V.J. has already begun his own.