David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer
George King is well-versed in the art of making the most of his time on the sideline.
Last summer, King was putting the finishing touches on a redshirt season that helped transform him from an overlooked recruit to an explosive scorer who eventually won the Pac-12 Conference’s Most Improved Player award for the 2015-16 season.
Now King will have to find a way to recover that momentum once he has fully healed from an unexpected injury setback.
Last week, King endured minor surgery on his right foot to remove a bone spur. While his teammates continue to pace themselves through summer workouts and informal scrimmages, CU’s top returning scorer is being forced to into a spectator while wearing a walking boot.
“I actually appreciate this happening now instead of any other time,” King said. “It allows me to sit back and slow down and not really think about basketball. Which is always 80, 85 percent of my thought process. It kind of reminds me of the redshirt season, having to sit back and watch the guys play.”
King was experiencing foot pain at the end of the season but the injury became magnified two weeks ago when he landed awkwardly on another player’s foot during a workout. The injury is considered relatively minor, with King having a small piece of bone removed from his foot during a procedure on June 15. King should be jogging again in about a month and is expected to be back at full strength by the time preseason practices begin this fall.
While King’s big-picture prognosis is encouraging, the injury is robbing one of the Buffaloes’ hardest-working players from building on the breakout campaign he completed in March.
“We missed the three weeks after the season where we could work out, and he’s missed all of June,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “It’s been a disappointing offseason for George and certainly for us not having him on the court. He’s kind of lost the summer, unfortunately. It’s just kind of a lost summer. It’s minor surgery, but it’s still surgery and he hasn’t been able to work out.”
After scoring just 41 points in limited minutes over 27 games as a true freshman in 2013-14, King burst out of his redshirt season impressively last year, averaging 13.6 points while leading the Pac-12 with a .456 shooting percentage from 3-point range. King scored at least 20 points in eight games and also averaged 4.7 rebounds.
King typically is one of the last players off the floor at the end of team workouts, routinely hoisting a sequence of jumpers from 3-point range before he ever calls it a day. King was eager to hone other aspects of his game this summer — he recorded just 23 assists and 13 steals the entire season — but that progress instead will have to take shape once the Buffs reconvene for official preseason workouts in October.
“On the 15th of July I’ll be jogging and the 20th I should be full-blown, but it’s not like at 12 o’clock on the 20th I’m going to grab a ball and start going a hundred miles and hour,” King said. “I’m going to do pool stuff. I’m going to work out for sure. I’m going to shoot but maybe stay away from five-on-five for a while. I’m going to take it slow.”