When a player commits, it’s a big story for the day and is paramount (as it should be) to the player and the program. The actual commitment day is the high water mark but there’s often so much more that goes into getting to the finish line.
In the case of small forward Nick King (Memphis, Tenn./East), Memphis did a number of little things to stand out to the No. 28 player in the 2013 class, including being the first to offer him a scholarship.
Memphis had the hometown advantage with King, but the Tigers did not take their proximity for granted. As a freshman, King played football (he no longer does) and Memphis dispatched an assistant coach to King’s first high school football game his freshman year.
The Tigers’ pursuit was thorough. Though King was only a junior, Josh Pastner spent the summer of 2011 chasing King. Pastner trailed him from the U-16 AAU Nationals -- where he was by himself watching most of the time -- to the Peach Jam. It’s one thing to recruit a player, it’s another to dedicate substantial time and demonstrate a commitment to him.
Memphis then cashed in its NBA chip and put a staffer to use. “Memphis was the first to offer him,” East coach Sam Bachelor said. “He had a good feeling for Memphis but the addition of Damon Stoudamire was big. They formed a good relationship.”
King is regarded as the type of player who will help a coach win a substantial amount of college basketball games. He already has won a state championship and he is a strong student with high character. He's one of those players who understands the game and how to play it accordingly. There’s a sense of humility surrounding King to go with an air of coachability. If you surround him with good players, he’s going to be a catalyst for getting more out of his supporting cast and that’s a trait that doesn’t exist in every top-25 player.
“Nick’s character that he displays on and off the court is unbelievable,” Bachelor said. “One example is this tournament game Nick was in foul trouble and didn’t get to play much. He still made all-tournament and when he got his medal he gave it to a teammate who helped bring us through the game. Nick realized that without Ervin Morris (his teammate) we wouldn’t have won and he took the medal off and gave it to Ervin.”
Another behind the scenes reason Memphis fans should celebrate King's commitment.