Joey King’s senior year is off to fast start

The forward earned Big Ten Co-Player of the Week honors Monday morning.

Minnesota forward Joey King shoots the ball in the second half against the Badgers on Saturday, Feb. 21.

Amanda Snyder, Daily File Photo

Minnesota forward Joey King shoots the ball in the second half against the Badgers on Saturday, Feb. 21.

Ryan Falk

The Gophers started their season by winning their first two games with two big scoring nights for senior forward Joey King.
 
King scored a combined 42 points over the weekend, including a career-high 22 against the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was named a Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Monday along with center Alex Olah of Northwestern.
 
“He’s a really, really confident kid right now,” head coach Richard Pitino said following Minnesota’s 76-58 victory over the Kangaroos. “He truly believes every shot he takes is going in, and he’s disappointed when it doesn’t go in.” 
 
King showed his versatility scoring from inside and outside the arc in the Gophers’ first two games.
 
The forward started the season off with a barrage of three-pointers, despite playing a lot at the center position when the Gophers went with a smaller lineup. He shot an impressive 70 percent against the Kangaroos, including going 6-for-9 from behind the arc.
 
King then led the team in points and rebounds against Louisiana-Monroe, helping Minnesota secure a 67-57 victory despite giving up a 13-point halftime lead.
 
“I just want to do everything to help our team win,” King said. “I really want to have no letdowns.”
 
King scored 20 points against the Warhawks but did so largely by getting to the free-throw line.
 
The senior shot 90 percent from the free-throw line with some of his final points, helping the Gophers during their 17-5 run at the end of the game.
 
He also had eight rebounds in the game after only averaging three per game a season ago.
 
“He rebounded the ball today, and that was huge,” Pitino said following the victory over the Warhawks. “His habits are really good; he works hard every single day.” 
 
King also had four rebounds on Friday against the Kangaroos, giving him the team lead with 12 total this season.
 
“It’s something I had to improve on, and whenever I can get anywhere between six and nine [or] six and eight, that’s great for our team,” King said. “I’m going to keep crashing the offensive glass when I can, and it’s working out for me.”
 
King said he’s looking forward to seeing what the Gophers can do this year after a disappointing season where the team went 18-15.
 
“I really just erased last season and wanted to start fresh,” King said. “[The team] all just worked as hard as we could this summer to become the best basketball players we could be, individually and as a team.”
 
The team’s roster is young, but so far the senior has taken charge with back-to-back 20-point games to open his final season.
 
“[King’s] been awesome,” sophomore guard Nate Mason said. “Hopefully we can keep it up.”