Statistically speaking, George King is just about the top returning free throw shooter for the Colorado men’s basketball team.
In typically King fashion, though, he is nowhere near satisfied with either his touch or his results.
With the countdown dwindling to the Buffs’ season opener at home Friday against Sacramento State, King is putting the finishing touches on the subtle additions to his game he hopes will lead to even bigger results this year after making a mark as one of the breakout stars in the Pac-12 Conference last season.
“The release point in the wrist and that type of thing, that’s one thing I’m struggling with,” King said of the state of his free throw skills. “I’ve got to do a better job of finding just one that I like. The three, obviously I know what I like.”
Having led the Pac-12 with a .456 (68-for-149) 3-point percentage last season, King understands there are other aspects of his game he will need to rely upon more with defenses well aware of his long-range prowess. Attacking the rim with greater proficiency, and in turn getting to the line with greater frequency, is one way the reigning Pac-12 Most Improved Player award winner hopes to improve on last year’s 13.6 scoring average.
“Guys are going to close out hard because they know I’m a good 3-point shooter, so now I have to put the ball on the deck and get by them and potentially get contact at the rim to get to the line,” King said. “I have to make opposing teams pay for fouling me. I just need to go to the rim hard and either score or get fouled. I’m not trying to shy away from contact, but go through contact.
“It’s something you can’t practice. It’s just something you have to consistently do.”
The since-graduated Josh Scott was the Buffs’ most effective free throw shooter last year at .749, but King was just a tick behind him at .748 (89-for-119), albeit in 76 fewer attempts than Scott (146-for-195). King’s mark was good for 15th in the Pac-12. Officially junior point guard Dominique Collier is the Buffs’ top returning free throw shooter with a 2015-16 percentage of .757, but he didn’t have enough attempts to qualify for the league leaders (56-for-74).
King averaged just 3.5 free throw attempts per game last year. Given his own near-maniacal drive to always improve his game, combined with the encouragement of head coach Tad Boyle to be more versatile, expect that number to increase appreciably this year.
“George is a very good shooter. We want him to shoot the 3-ball,” Boyle said. “But I think sometimes you can fall into settling for the three. That’s the thing we can’t let George do. Hey, when it’s open you take it. But boy, he’s hard to stop when he goes to the rim. And the only way you can get to the free throw line, and he’s a good free throw shooter, is to attack the basket.
“He’s got to pick his spots, know where his advantages lie, and take advantage of those.”