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12 - Tipoff '9- Thursday, November 17, 1
'Old man' King
learns lessons on
court and off
By RYAN WHITE
At 21, Jimmy King is ancient.
"I'm the old guy around
here," says King, a four-
year starter. "I'm telling all the
young guys, 'Run with me so I can
throw the (alley)-oops and you all
can dunk it.' I'll just stand out by
the three-point line and arc the
"I've got the old man's game
This from a man who was on
national television before he could
vote, who had a book written about
him before he could drink.
He arrived in Ann Arbor in 1991
with four other freshmen as part of
what was called the greatest
recruiting class ever - the Fab
Five. For the next two years the
group established itself as, if not the
greatest class ever, definitely the
Along with Juwan Howard, Ray
Jackson, Jalen Rose and Chris
Webber, King trash-talked, sagged,
swaggered and jammed his way to
the final night of the college
basketball season - The NCAA
championship game, against Duke.
It ended in a loss, but began his real
Lesson No. 1: All good things must
come to an end.
The Fab Five fast became the
biggest name in sports. Loved by
millions - and hated by nearly as
many - the group amassed 56 wins
and only 16 losses in the two years
it was together.
After the 1992 championship
loss to North Carolina the Fab Five
lost their first member: Webber
went pro. Last year he was followed
by Howard and Rose, leaving only
King and Jackson at Michigan.
"I miss the friendships more
than I miss them as teammates,"
King says. "Of course they're great
players, but we built a friendship
that's going to last.
"Now they're doing their thing.
We keep in contact, but it's not as
easy with them being somewhere
Lesson No. 2: When the going gets
The Fab Five hasn't always been
kind to King.
At this year's basketball media
day Wolverine coach Steve Fisher
admitted that King had been a sort
of stepchild to the departed three
while they were at Michigan. He
was hidden in the Michigan offense
and for the first time in his career he
was not a team's go-to guy.
This came after a stellar high
school career. As a senior at Plano
East High School in Texas, King
averaged 25. 5 points and eight
rebounds a game. He was a
McDonald's All-American, earned
second team Parade All-American
honors and was named "Mr.
Basketball" in the state of Texas.
Kansas coach Roy Williams has
called King one of the best three
high school players that he'd ever
seen in person. The other two? The
New York Knicks' Derek Harper -
and Michael Jordan.
Moving from center stage was a
tough adjustment for King. But he
says that despite the fact that he
wasn't scoring like he had in high
school and he was often in the
shadows of his teammates, he never
thought about transferring.
"You can always think that
maybe if I'd have gone someplace
else I'd be in the spotlight, I'd
average 20 points and be an all-
american," he says. "But I'd rather
be on a winning team that's going
to two Final Fours and a final eight.
Being part of the Fab Five and the
group of guys I was with never
made me feel like I should have
gone someplace else."
In fact now, even though the
individuals of the Fab Five have
spread out across the country, King
is best defined by the guys he
arrived with his freshrran year.
They talk often and King says
that his best memories of Michigan
are just hanging out with the other
Lesson No. 3: If you're given a
lemon, make lemonade.
In reality the losses of Rose and
Howard, added to Webber's
departure two years ago, may be the
best thing that's happened to King
during his career at Michigan.
King is once again the offensive
focus, something he hasn't been
since high school,hand has the
added responsibility of being a
leader on a team that is once again
full of freshmen.
And if anyone knows what's on
the horizon for Michigan's newest
recruits, it's King.
"I know what they're going
through, the adjustments they're
making from being away from
home, and having to compete at this
level academically and athletically,"
he says. "They're adapting well,
they're adapting real well."
King took over his new role on
From the day Chris Webber
Ray Jackson pulled on a Wolv
Their nickname, Fab Five.
It was the Fab Five who n
NCAA finals as freshmen and
It was the Fab Five who v
basketball shorts, black socks r
It was the Fab Five who rev
trading intimidation for gall;
heroics for trash-talking; del
half-court offense for in-yoi
But somewhere along the wa
the individual accomplished w,
shadowed - if not forgotten.
Now Michigan has another c
recruiting class, one that comes
equaling the talent-level of the
classes are eerie, indeed.
Jerod Ward rivals the super
Willie Mitchell possesses s
Maceo Baston was labeled
recruiting guru Bob Gibbons.
Maurice Taylor was ranked
King was ranked 10th.
And point guard Travis Con
balances the talents, much like
It's not surprising, then, that
1993-94 Final Wolverine Big Ten Statistics
AVG. MIN. AVG. PTS. FG. PCT. AVG. Reb.
It has been dunks like this that havei
the team last June after Rose and
Howard were both taken in the first
round of the NBA draft.
"When they told me they were
leaving I took it upon myself that it
was my team - mine and Ray's
team," King says. "I'm going to do
as much as I can to be ready for
whatever is thrown at me so that I
can be the best leader that I can."
King prepared for the season by
staying in Ann Arbor all summer,
tackling the books, hitting the
made King and the Fab Five national celebrities.
weights and working on his all-
"I want to improve in all areas
(this season): field goal percentage,
making more shots, my three-point
field goal percentage," he says. "I
have to be more consistent in those
areas. For us to be a good team I
have to do that.
"(I have to be) a well-rounded,
versatile player so that if one night
something isn't going well I have
the skills to do something else.
That's what I want to bring to the
team this year."
Lesson No. 4: Just do it
King is striving for consistency
- his biggest shortcoming thus far.
He's had games where he's
looked like the player Williams saw
in high school and others where
he's been hardly noticeable.
Last season against Iowa, King
had 22 points and capped a
Wolverine comeback when he
buried a three-point shot to win the
Freshman Maurice Taylor soar
Ray Jackson and Jimmy King.