King's Lightning touch overpowers Oshawa
London Community News
Story by John Matisz/London Community News
Photos by Mike Maloney/London Community News
Labelled a basketball "prodigy" back in high school, Huntington Beach, Cali. native Taylor King still has his sights set on cracking a National Basketball Association (NBA) roster one day. Snatched by the London Lightning prior to the 2011-12 pre-season, King's journey will include a tour of duty in the Forest City during the National Basketball League of Canada's (NBLC) inaugural season.
"I'm in a great spot right now," he told London Community News after the Lightning's 111-83 pre-season drubbing of the Oshawa Power Sunday afternoon (Oct. 23) in front of nearly 1,000 fans congregated at the John Labatt Centre (JLC). "I'm very blessed for the opportunity."
Introducing London residents to professional basketball for the first time, the Bolts' debut — albeit exhibition — featured a studly performance from King, a former small forward for NCAA Division I powerhouses Duke University and Villanova University.
London led 57-24 at the half after allowing just nine points in the opening quarter. The Power would press late in the contest, recording 36 in the final frame. Their sudden surge was not nearly enough, especially with King dialed-in from his long range comfort zone.
"I felt the rhythm I guess and my teammates did a good job of finding me," he said of his game-high 29 points while shooting 10-for-19 from the field and 50 per cent from three-point land.
Though four other London players hit double digits against an Oshawa team who shot an abysmal 32 per cent on the afternoon, King — who came off the bench but ended up playing over 28 minutes — stood out thanks to his sweet stroke. Moreover, his seven rebounds led all Lightning players while his trio of steals were tied with teammate and London product Pat Sewell for most on the club.
A professional at just 23, King is one of the youngest Bolts. The 6-foot-8 American turned down offers in Italy, Serbia and Germany, opting for the job security associated with the newly formed NBLC.
Lightning bench boss Michael Ray Richardson, who was pleased with his squad's first showing at the JLC, has been impressed with King's touch since the youngster arrived in London last Saturday.
"When he's open he can flat-out shoot the ball," Richardson said. However, the proven professional coach did not give all the credit to his hot perimeter shooter. "Guys are in this league for a reason," he said, "for some reason they leave shooters open."
One member of the Lightning Oshawa did not have to worry about was Sewell, who saw only 13 minutes of action and was the lone London player to be held pointless.
Nevertheless, King said his pre-season prowess does not guarantee he will be the Lightning's go-to guy on a nightly basis.
"Tonight is my night, our first home game could be another guy's," he said. "Every single guy can fill (the basket)."
Richardson agrees, adding his team is on the right track.
"Are we where we want to be going into the season? Yes," he said.