BLOOMINGTON-In the spring of 2004, IU Coach Mike Davis offered a disgruntled Marco Killingsworth exactly what he'd been yearning for – freedom.
At the time, Killingsworth was coming off a second-team All-SEC season for Coach Cliff Ellis' Auburn Tiger team. Despite more than respectable production – Killingsworth averaged 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds – he felt like his development was being stunted, and his future being jeopardized.
"At Auburn, it was about being a robot," said Killingsworth who was a prep Parade All-American out of Birmingham, Ala. "You ran to the blocks, you turned and looked, if you got the ball, you faked this way and then did this."
The 6'8", 268-pound Killingsworth longed to do more.
"Out of high school I knew I could do a lot more than I was getting a chance to do there," said Killingsworth.
In a case of perfect hindsight, Killingsworth says he can look back and see some of the flaws in how he wound up at Auburn in the first place.
"Looking back, I wasn't really looking at everything – I didn't take all my visits, I went there and I liked the school on the visit and committed," said Killingsworth. "I didn't think through everything."
Those were a few of the things that eventually led Killingsworth to look elsewhere, all in an effort to get the chance to showcase his talents. That pursuit has led him to Bloomington, where he is expected to start alongside D.J. White on the Hoosiers' frontline this season.
It was IU Coach Mike Davis who attracted him with the promise of more freedom, better opportunities and a chance to win a championship.
"Coach Davis lets you play," said Killingsworth. "He told me, ‘I'm going to let you do your thing. I'll let you showcase your talents, and we're going to see what you can do.'"
Actually, Davis already had a good idea what Killingsworth would be able to do. IU's coach told Killingsworth he had recruited him when he was still an IU assistant coach, although the first time around Indiana didn't get its foot in the door with the graduate of Central Park Christian High School.
The second time around, Davis turned out to be exactly the sort of coach Killingsworth was looking for.
Davis talked about a vision of making the most out of the skills of both Killingsworth and D.J. White.
"Here, guys were real with me and Coach Davis was real with me," said Killingsworth. "He didn't tell me I was going to play 40-50 minutes, but he said if I came in and played hard I was going to play."
Davis also pledged that he'd make sure that the ball was making its way into the post as well.
"Coach said, ‘I will guarantee you that we'll get you the ball,'" said Killingsworth. "He also said that as DJ comes along they'd make sure the ball goes to both of us."
All Davis asked for in return was effort. Killingsworth provided that effort on the practice floor a year ago, which went a long way toward accelerating the development of White.
This year, that effort is expected to produce tangible results in terms of points, rebounds, and presumably more wins and fewer losses than IU has experienced the last two seasons.
"I can't wait to get started," said Killingsworth. "Last year was a long year – a real long year. I'm ready to get back on the court and show people everything I can do."
Killingsworth Covets His Freedom
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