Five-star King commits to Louisville

V.J. King, one of the top wing scorers in the 2016 recruiting class, ended his college recruitment on Friday.

Late Thursday night after V.J. King finished studying for an exam, the five-star prospect out of Fairfax (Va.) Paul VI laid awake for another two hours. Anxious and eager, King couldn’t fall asleep.

“I was just excited,” King told Scout. “It’s kind of a relief.”

Why the excitement?

Well King, a 6-foot-6 wing prospect, had settled on his college decision. On Friday, King informed Scout that he has verbally committed to Rick Pitino and Louisville.

“I think probably the main reason I picked that school was the conference,” King said. “I’ve always wanted to play in the ACC, the top conference in the country. Plus with the roster they have, I fit right into that system. They have a bunch of bigs and guards and not really that scoring factor and I can fit that.”

“This is a great fit and stylistically coach Pitino is going to get the most out of VJ,” Paul VI coach Glenn Farello said. “I think his development is a big piece of this whole puzzle. Their ability to develop their guards, that’s going to help VJ a ton. It’s a great fit.”

King took a pair of official visits. He visited Louisville the weekend of May 16th and two weekends later saw Connecticut.

“After the UConn visit, I knew it was between them and Louisville,” King said. “I told coach that I had an idea of where I wanted to go. It was after the UConn visit after I came back. I went back and talked to people I needed to talk to and I kind of assessed everything.”

On the visit to Louisville, King said he felt a connection with Rick Pitino.

“I could tell as the visit went on, he started to grow to me,” King said. “He would ask me to ride with him even when we had drivers. He would have side conversations with me and tell me stories and tell me about his relationship with Russ Smith. I could tell there was something different between us.”

King’s relationship with Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson factored into his decision making as well. Johnson has strong ties to both Paul VI and the AAU program King plays with – Team Takeover – as he used to coach for both.

“I talk to Kenny almost everyday,” King said. “Out of everybody he was on me the hardest. We talked the most and most of the time it wasn’t about basketball. I formed a really good relationship with him and I can really trust him. He was one of the driving forces in this commitment.”

“I think at times when there’s a preexisting relationship it’s more difficult,” Farello said. “It’s a challenge because of the negative recruiting that goes on. I was really pleased how this played out because V.J. built his own relationship with the Louisville staff and coach Johnson, Pitino and the players. It was something that happened very natural. It was pretty natural and that’s how this business should work.”

King has had a strong spring playing on the Nike EYBL circuit for Keith Steven’s Team Takeover group. King is averaging 14.2 points and 5.5 rebounds a game. King is known for skill and ability to score and he sees himself fitting into Louisville’s uptempo style.

“They play very similar to the high school I’m at, which is very fast paced,” King said of Louisville. “He said if I play defense, I’ll get it to you on offense. We went through film where he would just let his players go.”

“He has a such a great tool set,” Farello told Scout. “It’s about maximizing his tool set, which makes sense for him to go play for Pitino. He has playmaking ability, a natural ability to score and he can impact the game at both ends. He has a high basketball IQ. The most important thing with high-level players is do they understand what it takes to win. He understands what it takes to win.”

King is Louisville’s first pledge of the 2016 recruiting class.

Read our evaluation of King's commitment here.

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