Not long after Colorado’s basketball season ended this past spring, senior George King sat down with head coach Tad Boyle and assistant Kim English to outline a game plan for the coming months ahead of the NBA draft.
Though he was a solid and sometimes even spectacular player the previous three seasons with the Buffaloes, King’s name wasn’t echoing loudly among draft prognosticators. Yet the NBA was a dream King had targeted with laser-like focus since arriving at CU almost five years earlier and, as he prepared to make that dream a reality, Boyle and English wanted to quell a couple misconceptions.
First, they assured King he didn’t need to leave school to pay his own way at a training facility at an unfamiliar location. King opted to stay in Boulder, receiving his degree in May while working out daily in familiar Buffs black-and-gold.
And secondly, in a bit of wisdom English learned along the way before getting picked in the second round of the 2012 draft, CU’s assistant coach didn’t want King to approach each week as if he was preparing strictly for the next showcase or team workout. English wanted King to prepare for his first season as a pro, regardless of the destination.
That plan was executed flawlessly by King, who on Thursday night became the fifth CU player from Boyle’s tenure to get selected in the NBA draft, going in the second round (No. 59 overall) to the Phoenix Suns.
“It’s a complete misnomer that guys just ascend into the pre-draft process, and that their trainers get them drafted,” English said. “NBA teams are probably the smartest basketball organizations in the world, as far as intel and research and access they have to information. In our work, what I told him was the mindset he had was that he wasn’t working out with me to play well at Portsmouth or Chicago. Our workouts were the first step for him preparing for the next NBA season.”
King finished his CU career ranked second all-time in 3-point percentage (.401), 14th in rebounds (681), and 18th in points (1,294). He led the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage two seasons ago while winning the Pac-12’s Most Improved Player award and led the Buffs in rebounding in each of the past two seasons.
Despite “putting a lot on tape,” as English put it, King can also credit a couple of standout performances at postseason prospect showcases for bolstering his draft stock. At the NABC All-Star game during Final Four weekend in one of the two cities King calls home, San Antonio, he earned the East team’s Most Outstanding Player nod after going 8-for-11 with 21 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots.
King was equally impressive at the Portsmouth Invitational, where he earned all-tournament honors after posting a .579 shooting percentage (22-for-38) while averaging 18 points and 7.7 rebounds in three games. King was a second team All-Pac-12 selection, yet among the seven draft-eligible players on the first team, four went undrafted.
“Everybody is not a one-and-done, and if you’re not, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still achieve your dream and get to where you want to get,” Boyle said. “In George’s journey, being drafted is just the first step. The fact that only 60 kids are taken is pretty special. To put yourself in that sort of company and category is pretty special. I’m proud for George, but I’m also proud of our program that we’ve had five players drafted in eight years. It’s certainly a great honor.”
King spent draft night with his family in San Antonio before traveling Friday to Phoenix for a press conference alongside the Suns’ other draft picks.