Columbus North boys basketball lost its top player in the first game of the Noblesville Tournament when senior Alex King leaped in the air but did not come down on two feet.
He landed on his back instead, and stayed there for some time. The injury, which he explains as a bone bruise in his lower back, kept him sidelined for the remainder of the tournament.
North lost all three of its tournament games as they fell 57-49 to Fishers and were without King’s 18 points per outing in the final two games. North will be glad to have him back tonight against Terre Haute North, but nagging injuries are something King has been dealing with all season.
“He’s had to learn to play banged up,” North coach Paul Ferguson said. ” What I’ve told him is that it’s part of the game. You have to learn to play through injuries and to take care of your body by strengthening it, stretching it and hydrating it. All the things guys do at the next level to make sure their body can perform at maximum capability.”
King missed the season opener at Heritage Christian after pulling his hip flexor. He said it still bothers him from time to time. The Bull Dogs did just fine without him as they rode Ethan Mitchell’s season-high 22 points, but they could not replicate the same performance in the tournament.
Senior Nathan VenDeventer and sophomore Trey Vincent combined for 28 points in the final game against Chesterton. It was not enough for victory, however. North has lost four consecutive games after starting the season winning five of its first six. King has picked up on some important details that may help the team get back on track.
“We have to get really good at the little things, like our coaching staff has been saying,” King said. “Our offense is struggling right now. We need to learn to be patient, move the ball and look for the great shot and not the good shot.”
Two years ago King was just happy to be on the team after beating out four other players to earn his varsity spot as a sophomore. Now two years later, King has grown from a player fighting for his spot, to becoming team captain and a future college student-athlete. King’s ability to process coaching instructions and immediately add them to his game is part of the reason why Ferguson puts his basketball IQ on another level.
“He takes instruction and coaching very seriously and really thinks it through,” Ferguson said. “I’ve really appreciated that about him, being his coach. It’s very rewarding to coach someone who responds so well to instruction. I think Alex is going to be an outstanding college player.”
Ferguson is not the only person who see’s potential in King’s ability to play at the next level as he was offered scholarships from seven Division 1 schools by his junior year. King obviously will be paying attention to the schools’ basketball programs when making his choice, but the academic success is just as important. King, who is looking to study medicine or cyber security, is not at all concerned about traveling far from home, either.
He has the choice to stay relatively close if he wants to by accepting offers from Indiana schools like Ball State, Evansville and Indiana State, but the two schools at the top of his list right now are the Unites States Military Academy (Army) and Navy. Ferguson can tell that King is interested in going to a school that will help him grow into a well-rounded young man as well as a better basketball player. He said King’s best days are ahead of him no matter which college he decides to attend.
“He’s going to continue to grow into his body,” Ferguson said. “He’s going to get stronger. He’s going to get more physical and he’s already such a versatile scorer.”
When Ferguson took over North’s program last year, he saw a jump shooter in King who liked to settle for too many 3-point shots. The most significant change in his style of play is how he looks to attack the basket and post up on the block this year. His versatile offensive approach has allowed him to shoot more free throws, and cutting down on his 3-point attempts has helped raise his shooting percentage from behind the arc. King has no issue with adding dimensions to his game if it means helping his team win. He is committed to doing all he can, including playing through minor aches and pains. Ferguson said getting used to playing through a little pain will help him in his basketball career as he moves forward.
“There are very few days at the next level where you feel like your body feels great … and 100 percent,” Ferguson said. “You have to learn to deal with the wear and tear of being a basketball player.”
The Bull Dogs will need King to play as close to 100 percent as they try and avoid a fifth consecutive loss tonight against a Terre Haute North team that is on a six-game winning streak.
Name: Alex King
Key Stats: PPG: 18.6; RPG: 7.7
Other sports of interest: Soccer