BY LARRY VAUGHT
It would have been easy to make a phone call, send a text or make a post on social media to announce her verbal commitment to the Kentucky basketball program.
Junior Emma King of Lincoln County didn’t want to do that. She thought it would be more “special” for everyone if she went to Lexington to tell coach Matthew Mitchell face to face.
“That way I also got to visit them all (UK coaches and players). I love them all. It was a good excuse to go up there,” said King. “Plus, I wanted to see his reaction.
“I told him, he got up and gave me a big hug. He was just really excited, and so was I. At that time it was just me and my family in the office with him. But he went out and got everybody. They (the coaches) all came in. We took a ton of pictures. It was really fun.”
King averaged 17.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last season. She had a knack for getting to the foul line where she scored 140 of her 574 points and shot 82 percent. She had averaged 15.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a freshman.
The 5-10 1/2 King, who has a 4.0 grade-point average and has a 27 on the ACT, went over the 1,000-point career mark in mid-January. She is UK’s first commitment in the 2019 recruiting class.
Blair Green of Harlan County is a 2018 UK commit. Her mother, Debbie, is her high school coach and was happy that King committed.
‘She will be a great addition for the 2019 class. Smart and talented girls are my favorite,” Debbie Green said. “Blair will be thrilled to have her as a teammate. I know coach Mitchell and staff are probably pretty happy right now
“I know she is a great 3-point shooter, has really good length at the guard spot and has a high basketball IQ.”
King’s high school coach, Cassandra McWhorter, was not surprised she decided to commit now even though she had numerous other offers along with interest from a lot of other schools.
“We have had many discussions during the recruiting process and I could tell her heart was set on Big Blue,” McWhorter said. “I know she has worked extremely hard for this moment.”
With two years of high school basketball left, committing now could relieve some pressure on King. She admits the recruiting process got stressful last year.
“I think it does in a way take pressure off,” she said. “It’s not something you want to get over with too quick but once you know, you know where you want to go and I know. I just didn’t want to waste any other coach’s time watching me and contacting me when I already know that is not what I wanted.”
One of the best parts of King’s play has always been her enthusiastic, aggressive play that often led to smiles on the court that were missing a lot last season.
“I definitely think her commitment to UK will relieve some of the pressure she felt last season during that recruiting process,” McWhorter said. “I have already witnessed a difference in her play this summer and can sense a bit of freedom in her game.”