Thursday, May 31, 2012

King Returns to his Roots

VJ King-8th Grader

As if Ohio’s class of 2016 was not already stacked enough, in about 20 more days, one of the top 8th graders in the country will officially return to Ohio. Who is Vincent "VJ" King you ask; in terms of basketball, King is an athletic 6’6 WF who most national scouts who follow kids this young have already ranked among the top 5 players in the country. Although he did not offer specifics, King has already caught the attention of major college programs, as evidenced by his “significant” amount of interest and letters. Although, as a 6th grader he played on his high school’s JV team in North Carolina, King first grabbed national attention after his standout performance at Clay Dade’s Fab Frosh Camp in Suwannee, GA. King was only the second 8th grader in the camp’s history to be invited to the elite camp for rising freshmen. In addition, last fall at the John Lucas Camp in Louisville, Ky, King wowed those in attendance with his skill set and overall game (see video).

Although I have only seen King play a handful of times, it’s clear to this evaluator that he has elite level talent. Possessing good length, King is highly effective getting to and finishing at the rim.  He can also handle the rock, shoot from the perimeter, and finds open teammates. Defensively, King can guard multiple positions, and his length allows him to block shots at a high rate. In terms of his assessment of his own game, King counts as his strength his ability to score the ball and “set up teammates." At this point, despite early college interest, King has no childhood favorites, and is nowhere near forming a list of college favorites. Right now, King is content on developing both his basketball game as well as his budding golf game. “I play golf a little,” offered King. In addition to athletics, King is most proud of his academic success, as he is a straight A student.

As a kid, King is the son of VJ King Sr. Although King currently attends United Faith Christian Academy in Charlotte, NC, in a couple weeks, King and his family will move to Copley, located near Akron, and he will attend the famed Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s (ASVSM). As I alluded to earlier, King will soon be “returning” to Ohio when his father begins his new position with First Tee, a company he worked for in Charlotte.  VJ and his family are no strangers to the Buckeye State, as his parents were both born in northeast Ohio.  In fact, VJ was born in Cleveland, and left the state when he was years old. Therefore, the King’s return to the state actually represents a homecoming.

According to VJ’s father, who played college ball at DII Indiana University in Pennsylvania, and enjoyed a long professional career oversees, his decision to return to Ohio, and his son’s decisions to attend ASVSM were easy ones, for multiple reasons. First of all, other than the job opportunity, VJ senior’s longstanding relationship with ASVSMs’ coach Drew Joyce was one of the primary reasons for the family’s return to Ohio. “I have known Drew for the better part of a decade. I knew him before I was anybody, and before VJ was a good player. He humbled himself and was willing to take time out of his schedule to talk to me,” said the elder King. “It was not a very hard decision to make. We weighed all the factors, including the history of Drew and ASVSM,” continued King.  “I recruited Drew; we weighed the pros and cons, and as a family, we made the decision. The elder King was sure to point out that the decision to uproot his family and return to northeast Ohio was a "family decision," as his wife Lo and his younger daughter Jalen, a 7th grader, both supported the move. "My wife is a soldier; she trusts my decisions. She gave me her opinion and we both made the decision," King added. In terms of Jalen's  motivation in the move, "she likes the snow; she is a cool climate person; everybody else in the family likes the heat," added King.

This summer, King is running with All-Ohio’s 9th grade squad where he has teamed up with guys like Esa Ahmed, Noah Bramlage, Michael Simon, and Lamonte Stone Jr. Only an 8th grader, King is not only a starter on the team, he often appears to be the best player on the floor, which is significant given the talent level on that team. King is not new to the team, as he hooked up with All-Ohio at the end of last summer and attended the AAU Nationals with the team. The rest of King's summer will include stops at one of the 5 Star camps, one of the Jr. All-American Camps and participation in Cleveland's competitive Pro/Am league.

Although King is starting to get a lot of national attention, he and his family appear to be keeping everything in the proper perspective. “We (family) are sensitive about who we talk to. We understand this game is a journey and anything can happen between now and high school. VJ is only in the 8th grade. If he continues to work hard; is first in the gym, anything can happen,” stated VJ’s father.  With King’s immense talent, work ethic and continued family guidance, King’s upside potential is unmistakable. Buckeye Prep would like to welcome VJ, his father, his mother Lo and sister Jalen home to Ohio.