Joey King officially signed with Minnesota on Tuesday, becoming the fourth Gophers' 2013 recruit. King played a year at Drake last season before transferring to be closer to home. The Eagan-native played at Eastview High School and now becomes the only Minnesotan on the Gophers' roster. King, who is 6-7, 215 pounds could be a valuable piece of the Gophers' frontcourt should he be eligible right away -- he's certainly working to impress early. New coach Richard Pitino tweeted on Thursday that King had performed very well in the first two practices of the summer session, which started on Tuesday.
MVP of both practices goes to Joey King. Took 5 charges in two hours of practice.— Richard Pitino (@MNCoachPitino) June 20, 2013
I caught up with him to chat a little about his decision and how thing are going so far (questions in bold; his answers in regular type).
So how has it been playing under Richard Pitino so far? He’s a great coach. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play for him. He makes us work hard and the expectation is that we bring it every day and that’s the way I like to play basketball.
What about Minnesota were you most drawn to? Coming home was great for me and meeting a coach like coach Pitino, it just felt like a great opportunity for me to play here at Minnesota.
What was the biggest factor that went into you leaving Drake? It was really important for me to come home. That was most important for me.
Do you know yet whether you will be eligible to play next season? That is being worked on right now, it’s in progress. We’re seeking for the opportunity for me to play next year.
What sort of takeaways did you bring from your experience at Drake? What does it mean to have a season of collegiate ball already under your belt as you head into the Big Ten? There’s a lot of great competition in the Missouri Valley and when we stepped out for out of conference games, we played against some of the best. So it was a great opportunity. I appreciate everything Drake did for me and it’s just time to move on and begin my career here at Minnesota.
Do you think you learned more about yourself and what you need to work on last year? Absolutely. As you move up higher and higher in basketball, everything you do has to improve. I took steps with my strength and speed and I only look to keep improving in those areas along with all my skills in basketball.
Do you have any personal goals set for yourself in this first year with the Gophers? Right now, it’s just getting me on the floor, that’s what’s most important, we’ve got to take care of some business with that. Once that’s done with, we’ll begin to think about next season. Right now, it’s just getting better every day.
Did the ability to possibly step in and contribute immediately with the frontcourt as thin as it is factor into your decision? I can’t say it really went into my decision. I think where we are at right now, I think we have a great all-around team. Who we have really fits Pitino’s system and getting out on the court and practicing, we have a really good feeling about where we are and where we’re going to be.
What did Pitino say to you to sell you on Minnesota? What have you talked about? He told me about the way they play and what the expectation is – toughness and effort are two of the things that I strive to show most, so that’s a big factor. A style that you play and a style that you want to play is definitely very important when choosing a college.
Do you think you'll fit in with that style? Absolutely.
Did you grow up a Gophers fan, being from the state? Yep
So that’s got to be pretty neat for you and your family, to be a part of it now. Absolutely, my loved ones are really looking forward to it.
Are they going to a lot of games anyway? Some, but now that I’m coming, a lot more.
How are you getting along with the other players? Is everyone still getting to know each other? It’s excellent. We’ve got a few new players and everything is looking great, we’re like one big family.