Following a career-opening outing that saw him take just one shot from the floor in Louisville's 31-point win over Evansville on Friday night, highly-touted freshman V.J. King appeared more at ease in the Cardinals second game of the young season - a 91-58 win over William & Mary on Monday evening.
King, along with Anas Mahmoud, was the first off the bench at the 14:26 mark of the first half with his team leading 12-6. Within a minute, the 6-foot-6 forward connected on a pair of jumpers, including a three-pointer, and had grabbed a rebound. He surpassed his opening-night totals of six points and two rebounds before the midway point of the opening frame.
Registering 17 minutes of action, the McDonald's All-American finished as the game's high scorer. He connected on 7-of-11 from the floor, including all three three-point attempts, while also recording five rebounds.
"My teammates did a great job of finding me when I was open and I got a lot of easy looks early on," King told Cardinal Authority. "I'm just ready for my moment whenever they put me out there on the floor. Making open shots, being aggressive, not taking any bad shots."
U of L head coach Rick Pitino praised King's performance against William & Mary and the progress he's making.
"I think he's very aggressive offensively," Pitino said. "He's got a great first step. He's getting much more confident because of the thousands of shots he's taken. He's a really good basketball player. He's overwhelmed with how many things are being thrown at him right now and each game you can see it. He's not thinking as much, he's just playing, and tonight was indicative of him just playing and not thinking too much."
The experience of his first real college game gave King an understanding what to expect.
"As I get more minutes I start to get more comfortable out there," he said. "I play a lot better when not worrying about making a mistake and that's what I did."
While King subbed in sophomore Deng Adel on most occasions, the pair were on the floor together for a three-minute stretch on Monday night which provided enough of a real-game sample to impress Pitino. Adel also had his best overall outing as a a Cardinals, finishing with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
"The thing I found out tonight is that Deng [Adel] and V.J. can play together," Pitino said. "That's the most important thing and it gives you great length."
Adel agreed, saying that their ability to swap spots on the floor and be "interchangeable" helps to "create mismatches."
King added their size, coupled with their ability to run the open floor, helps at both ends of the floor.
"Our athleticism and our length," King said. "With our size, we can get out on breaks, get a lot of stops and rebounds. Just get out and run and its a lot of fun when you can run like that."