Joey King knows his role at Minnesota will increase dramatically next season. With three key seniors graduating, King, a 6-foot-9 forward, will become one of the Golden Gophers’ main guys.
He realizes that, and it has shown in his play the last two games.
King followed up a great performance in the regular season finale against Penn State with an even better outing Wednesday as Minnesota defeated Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
He posted 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including six 3-pointers, in addition to 2 assists and 2 steals as the Golden Gophers advanced with an 80-68 victory.
After Wednesday’s game, coach Richard Pitino said King reminds him of former Louisville standout Luke Hancock, who played for Pitino’s father at Louisville.
“He’s got that similar type game, plays with great confidence,” Pitino said. “If there’s a guy that everybody would vote is the hardest worker on the team every single day, every single possession, they’d say Joey without a doubt. He’s not a great verbal leader. That’s the next step for him.”
Taking that step will be a focus for King this offseason.
“In the games I obviously have to become a better vocal leader, but I think that’ll come with time in the summer once our seniors move on and graduate,” King said. “In the games I just want to do the best I can to compete on every single possession, but I’m sure I’ll become much better this summer.”
Thanks to Wednesday’s win, King can wait a little longer for the offseason to come. Minnesota will face No. 6 seed Ohio State on Thursday in the Big Ten second round.