Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
By his own admission, George King hasn’t necessarily been undertaking job interviews in the traditional sense over the past month.
The Colorado basketball star simply wanted to gather as much information as possible regarding the next step in his basketball career as the current NCAA and NBA rules allow. Even if that next step won’t actually occur for another year.
On Monday, King’s toe-dipping into the NBA draft pool arrived at a personally meaningful conclusion, with the Buffaloes’ pending fifth-year senior undergoing a pre-draft workout for the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center alongside a number of familiar CU foes.
Although King already has announced he is returning to CU for his senior season, a stance he reiterated Monday, he remains eligible for NBA pre-draft workouts until he officially withdraws from the draft pool. The deadline for doing so is Wednesday.
“That’s why they call it testing the waters. I’m not jumping in head-first. I’m just dipping my toe a little bit,” King said. “I’m glad I had the experience to come out and work out for a professional organization, especially an organization like this. It’s a dream come true and I just wanted to take advantage of every opportunity that was there before me.”
It was somewhat of a surprise when King’s name landed on the list of 182 underclassmen who initially declared for the 2017 draft, given the CU guard is far off the radar for the two-round NBA draft.
King, though, simply wanted to get a sense of what might be in store for him a year from now when he truly begins the process of finding a place that will pay him to play. He went through one other team workout a week ago for Boston, and he experienced Monday’s workout alongside Nelson Kahler of CSU-Pueblo, Yante Maten of Georgia, and three players King competed against on the floor this past season — BYU’s Eric Mika, Eastern Washington’s Jacob Wiley, and Gian Clavell of Colorado State.
A standout shooter who led the Pac-12 Conference in 3-point percentage when he won the league’s Most Improved Player award during the 2015-16 season, King’s scoring average dropped from 13.6 to 11.1 this past season while his rebounding average jumped from 4.7 to a team-leading 6.8.
King posted six double-doubles this season after owning just one entering the year.
In terms of translating his skills to the next level, the 6-foot-6 King has always owned a plus-shooting touch with a solid leaping ability, yet he has struggled at times at CU in creating his own shots or finding open looks for teammates (King has recorded only 53 assists in 95 career games). During his short NBA excursion this spring a point has been reiterated to King that he hears on endless basis from CU coach Tad Boyle and his staff — in order to take his game to the next level, King must play defense with intensity and passion.
“Defend at a high level. I mean, at a really high level,” King said. “I hear that from coach Boyle. It’s going to take a lot of hard work. I know defending is not easy.”