Joey King is a 23 year old 206cm forward from Eagan, Minnesota playing his rookie season with Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga). He started his basketball career at Drake (NCAA) playing 32 games averaging 6.9ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 80.4%. He then moved to Minnesota (NCAA) where he played form 2013-2016 playing a total of 99 NCAA games and as a senior played 29 games averaging 11.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 44.9%, 3PT: 40.4%, FT: 88.6%. He spoke to German Hoops before the Fiba Europe Cup game against the Telekom Baskets Bonn.
Joey thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are a rookie form Minnesota playing for Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga). Despite coming from Minnesota where your used to hard cold winters, have you experienced anything in Finland this winter that has topped what you had seen your whole life in Minnesota in terms of hard winters?
I have been very comfortable in Finland so far, it does remind me a lot of Minnesota.
Joensuun Kataja Basket (Finland-Korisliiga) finished the Basketball Champions with a record of 7-7, but didn´t advance and got bumped down to the Fiba Europe Cup. How disappointing was not qualifying. You played some very good basketball having a three game winning streak beating Le Mans twice as well as teams like Avtordor, Pinar and Macabbi Rishon?
We got off to a great start in the champions league but injuries led to a lack of depth that we struggled to overcome. There is no doubt it is easy to be mentally prepared when matching up with teams like Le Mans Sarthe and Pinar Karsiyaka, but it is important that we begin to take care of business in our domestic league as well.
You will face the very talented and dangerous Telekom Baskets Bonn in Germany. They are one of the favorites to win the Fiba Europe Cup. How will the team go into this game and what will be key to getting the win?
We are certainly disappointed with our champions league outcome especially after being on the brink of advancing, but FIBA Europe Cup brings new challenges that our team is looking forward to. The matchup with Germany will be a battle from start to finish. In the round of 16 only the best of the best remain. We will prepare to the best of our ability and leave it all out on the floor
How vital has it been having ex Euroleague Finish point guard legend Teemu Rannikko who seems not to be aging at age 36 calling the plays and running the offense for the development of your game as a rookie? How much easier has it been adjusting to the professional game in Europe with him as your teammate
Having Teemu has been the most important part of my development as a first year player. He has shown me the ropes and made my job much easier. As a pick and pop 4 man, we compliment each other very well with our ability to shoot the 3 at a high percentage.
Let´s talk about your game. The first thing that stands out is that at 206cm is that you never have averaged more than 3,8rpg since starting college at Drake in 2012. Your accurate shooting from outside stands out as well. How would you describe your game philosophy?
Offensively my goal is to be the most efficient scorer on the floor. I pride myself in shooting high percentages from the field. Another important component of the game to me is limiting turnovers; my pet peeve is giving up easy baskets to our opponents. We want to make them work for everything. Defensively, I am learning every day. I am fortunate to be a rookie and step into one of the highest levels of competition in the world. With that being said, my ability to rebound, and have the game slow down will come with experience. It is all about being in the right place at the right time at this level and I’m taking steps forward every day.
To what NBA player could you compare your game style to and what players did you grow up wanting to emulate your game after?
When I think of NBA players I loved growing up, two immediately come to mind. As a Minnesotan, everyone wanted to be Kevin Garnett. I was no different. We were able to see KG in his prime and he will certainly go down as one of the best. As a player, I felt far more connected to Dirk Nowitzki. While everyone may not have the 7’0 frame and physical tools that Dirk possesses, he still set an example for many stretch 4 men like myself.
Your shooting obviously stands out, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court by people?
I think screening has become a very effective part of my game. As a great shooter, teams fear the pick and pop. I take pride in finding ways to not only get open myself but also create a shot for teammates by making the defense indecisive with screens and slips.
You started your basketball career in 2012 at Drake. As a freshman you played 32 games: 6.9ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 80.4%. What were the main reasons for moving to Minnesota? You didn´t have overwhelming stats at Drake, but you were able to go to top program Minnesota.
Richard Pitino and I connected immediately when I first visited the University. I had a reputation of high character and that is what he wanted to add to the program. Being the only Minnesotan on the team for Richards first year and having been born and raised just outside of Minneapolis allowed me to connect with our fan base and set a great example for the children in our community. Coach Pitino viewed me as a young man who would steadily improve as a player, take care of business in the classroom, and be a very positive influence on the community. The fact that I was able to start in the big 10 for 3 years and total over 1,100 career points is a wonderful accomplishment but nothing beats the ability to play in front over your family every night.
You won the NIT title in 2014. What were your fondest memories from this magnificent run?
It is hard to narrow down. I had wonderful teammates my sophomore year and we had a very successful season with a school record 25 wins. While it was hard being 1 basket short of a NCAA tournament birth, we made the most of being named the #1 overall seed by winning 5 straight to end our season.
What was the last movie that you saw?
No Country for Old Men.
Thanks Joey for the chat.