By Tom Ballato
Taylor King’s career has taken him all over the world, but it all started in California. A high school All-American, King was known for scoring and knocking down threes. Before his freshman year of college, he verbally committed to UCLA, decommitted, and wound up playing in Durham for coach Mike Krzyzewski. After one season, King decided to transfer to Villanova and play for Coach Jay Wright. After sitting out a year, he only played one season before leaving the team for personal reasons. King was going to play at USC but decided to enroll in NAIA school Concordia University Irvine to finish his collegiate career.
People often wonder why this highly touted recruit never stuck around, so I caught up with Taylor and asked him about his playing career.
You scored over 3,000 points in high school, were named a McDonald’s All-American, and the Mr. Basketball State of California. What gave you the confidence to be such a prolific scorer with range at such a young age?
King: I was big at a young age. I played the five (center) in elementary and middle school until I was 7th going into 8th grade. I was able to use both hands inside and be a great post player, left/right-hand hook shots, etc. When I got to high school, I knew I could shoot, so shooting threes, off the dribble, posting up, getting to the foul line, rebounding (especially offensively), are all the ways I was able to score. I just had that killer mindset that no one could guard me no matter what.
You played one season at Duke before transferring to Villanova. After sitting out a year, you played one season at Villanova before leaving due to personal reasons and returned home. What was your time like at each of those schools?
King: I enjoyed my time at both Duke and Villanova. I played for two Hall of Famers, and it gave me a chance to play at the highest level of college hoops. I played and did ok at both places, had some big games, played in huge games, and to be in big-time schools with lots of hype around those two programs was very special. It’s a brotherhood at both places, and that was fun to be apart of. I still keep in contact with guys from both schools, so it continues.
You had off the court problems, were away from basketball, and lost the love of the game. What influenced you to go back to the sport you’ve played your entire life?
King: When I left Villanova and came home, I was dealing with some family issues and personal issues. I was just in a bad way with myself, and the game wasn’t really something I was feeling anymore. A few weeks passed, maybe a month, and I went to my high school Mater Dei and played pick-up basketball. There were all pros there, guys who currently play in the NBA and overseas, and I killed it. I was the best player in the gym by far. My high school coach had a conversation with me and said I needed to play, and he would help get me connected with another college. I was going to attend USC, but that didn’t pan out, so I ended up going to a powerhouse NAIA at Concordia University Irvine. I was a first-team All-American and did my thing over there and enjoyed it very much.
Your career overseas brought you to Canada, England, Taiwan, Japan, Iran, Lithuania, Mexico, Argentina, and the NBA G League. How would you say your career went?
King: Yeah, I mean I played in all those countries, had stints in Iraq and China as well as those other countries. To say my career wasn’t short of crazy would be an understatement. Should I have been in the NBA? I absolutely should have, but I ended up in 11 different countries, over four continents, and saw parts of the world that most would only dream of seeing. To play the game I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into for a living is a great accomplishment in my eyes. So I am thankful for everything in my career.
You recently retired from basketball. In your Instagram post, you said your focus is to help younger athletes, go back and get your degree, and be good coaches. Could you see yourself becoming a college coach eventually?
King: I did recently retire and started my own training company shooting coach/skill development, etc. I am an assistant high school coach at a great high school and coach at a club AAU program as well. I am finishing my degree in January, so I have a bunch of stuff going on. What I wanted to do is be a head coach in high school, and if college coaching comes about, then sure, I wouldn’t mind.