Leading up the season we are doing a countdown of the Top 100 players in college basketball. These rankings are based on a poll made up of 14 CPP writers. These writers span from UCLA to Seton Hall so there is very little bias. Each day we will release the latest player on our ranking with a small write-up. Be sure to check out the rest of the Top 100 articles!
2016-17 Stats (Louisville): 13.5 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 42.1 3P%
Why They Are Here?
Coming out of high school ranked #23 in the 2016 ESPN Top 100, V.J. King was thought to be one of the best offensive players in this recruiting class. After his commitment to Louisville, there was a lot of uncertainty of what kind of role he would be playing there since Coach Pitino likes to develop his young talent. In the 13 minutes a game that V.J. played, his stats showed his potential of being a high volume scorer and offensive weapon for the Cards. In his short time on the court, V.J. King was one of the best free-throw shooters on the team and one of the better 3pt shooters as well. Given that both G Donovan Mitchell and F Jaylen Johnson will not be with the 2017-18 Louisville basketball team, V.J. King should be Louisville’s starting 2 or 3 next to fellow wing player Deng Adel. When speaking to the media this summer, Coach Rick Pitino had this to say about V.J. King: “He has gone from a timid freshman to a physical sophomore. He is stronger and now loves contact. He scores with and without the ball now.” With the talent level and potential V.J. King possesses, Louisville could be a team to beat if V.J. King breaks out.
Role on This Year’s Team
V.J. King needs to prove to everyone that he can carry a heavy load for Louisville this upcoming season. He will most likely start at the small-forward spot for the Cards and be a mismatch for smaller wing players as a result of his agility, versatility, and ability to create his own shots. Expect V.J. King to see between 20 and 30 minutes per game this upcoming season and split time with Brian Bowen, the #3 SF in the 2017 ESPN Top 100. We have seen it before, most recently with Donovan Mitchell, where a high-potential player under Rick Pitino explodes and breaks out his second year, and we may be on the cusp of another Pitino masterpiece! If V.J. King looks more sharp and physical right out of the gates next season, he will be an important and core piece to Louisville’s starting five.
College Season/NBA Prospect
Since Coach Pitino wants to give V.J. King more looks, I expect to see him average between 12-15 PPG and around 5 RPG. The entire Louisville basketball staff has been raving about King all summer, saying his shot looks much improved and he has a different approach to the game physically, making V.J. King an intriguing player to watch in the ACC. King has a lot to prove to not only Cards fans this season, but to those saying he is “another five-star bust.” On my “Way Too Early” 2018 NBA Draft Big Board, I have V.J. King ranked #30 and a possible late-first round prospect. If V.J. King breaks out and becomes one of Louisville’s best weapons, he could potentially move up into the lottery, but if he continues to struggle and plays passive, his draft stock could begin to plummet. Louisville’s first four games of the season should give all of us a sense of what to expect from V.J. this upcoming season and if he has what it takes to make Louisville a team to beat!
Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Top 100 player.
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NBA Draft Analyst/Louisville Basketball