King back on the market

Taylor King made waves a few years ago when he committed to UCLA before playing his first high school basketball game. King's commitment was such a big deal that sports radio in Los Angeles reported the pledge as part of their hourly sports reports. All seemed well in Westwood until King had a change of heart.

Several months ago reports started to surface about Taylor King possibly looking at other schools. He hinted that he may look elsewhere, but not much came of it.

That changed again about a month back. King started to hint that he may have been too hasty in choosing the Bruins. When Cat Tracks spoke with the talented lefty he admitted that things were going to get interesting.

"I am planning on decommitting very soon," King said. "I am going to decommit and open myself up to recruiting again. It does not mean that UCLA is out of the picture, they are very much in the picture. I am just trying to explore the other schools, talk to other coaches and stuff."

He has no particular school he is leaning towards, but he does have an interesting, if not completely defined plan.

"I am going to look all over," King continued. "North Carolina, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Washington, I want to play in either the ACC or the Big East. Arizona is in the mix. Let's see, who else, UConn. A lot of the big schools."

King looks like your typical California kid. He's got a bit of a laid back demeanor off the court. The Mater Dei standout would seem like a natural fit to stay on the Left Coast, but the Big East holds a lot of appeal.

"It's more physical, they play on national television almost every single weekend," King explained. "Just the competition you have in the Big East. You have UConn, Syracuse, Villanova, all of those teams. A lot of top-five, top-ten teams."

King admits that the Pac-10 television contract was a negative for UCLA. He makes no excuse that he wants to be on ESPN and the big networks. He also feels that he may have made a hasty decision in choosing the hometown team.

His reputation was made by his deadly left handed jumper, but King is surprisingly physical. He loves to bomb from the outside, but he uses his strength well when attacking the hoop. Despite showing improved strength and toughness, King wants to improve his ability to attack the hoop.

"I want to work on getting stronger," said King. "When you take the ball to the basket you need to be strong with the ball so I'm really working on that."

King's SoCal All-Stars teammate Taj Gibson is originally from Brooklyn and King has picked his brain about the style of play back east. "He said it's physical," King said. "It's really hard. They just play the way they grow up, the way they play is real physical."

Most consider him a four or a three, but King sees himself as a pure win on the next level.

"I am trying to work on my ball handling to be a sort of three/two," he explained. "I am not trying to be a three/four. I want to be the type to take people off the dribble."

Right now he certainly has the shot for the outside, but he needs to get a bit quicker on the defensive end. He is also a tough rebounder and some coaches may be hesitant to pull him away from the glass.

He has really improved his ball handling and now attacks the rim inside and off of the dribble. King models his game after the Sacramento King's Peja Stojakovic. He's got the jumpshot down and now wants to get better as a slasher.

King plays for two terrific teams. His high school, the prestigious Mater Dei, is one of the best basketball programs in the nation. The school has produced tons of D-I and NBA talents. Head coach Gary McKnight is known for his ability to instill fundamentals and get the most out of his players.

"They make me a better player," King says of the Mater Dei staff. "They teach me the do's an don't of what my position is supposed to do. They really focus on defensive skills. That is why Mater Dei is such a good school and so many good players come out of there."

The SoCal All-Stars are one of the most loaded AAU teams on the circuit. There are at least eight or nine high major prospects. Playing with that much talent has to make a player better, even if it affects his numbers.

"It's a very good team," King said. " This is a great bunch of guys. We play as a team, we pass the ball, we move, we cut. We play together because we've been playing together so long."

King has already had a long journey and it may only have begun. He's been in the spotlight since the eight grade and still has two more years of high school before he'll even step on a college campus.

King is a hot commodity once again and it should be interesting to see who winds up with the lefty from the Left Coast.

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com


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