Healthy again, Mavs’ King ready to help
When friends asked Shawn King why he wasn’t playing the past month, his response was simple: “I’m just injured.”
That’s about all he wanted to say about the pre-stress fracture in his pelvis.
“It’s a weird spot,” the junior guard for the Colorado Mesa University men’s basketball team said. “I don’t know (how it happened). The way my pelvis is shifted forward and me being tight (muscularly) and my muscles pulling ... it’s just a strange injury.
“I was coughing, and it was hurting, and (Geana Gaasch, the Mavs’ trainer) wasn’t sure; she said that’s one of the signs of a hernia.”
Gaasch sent King to the doctor, but he didn’t have a hernia. An MRI revealed a weakened area in his pelvis that could develop into a stress fracture. The only thing he could do was nothing and hope it healed. The initial rest period was two weeks. It turned into six.
King was cleared to practice two weeks ago and suited up for the Mavs’ home games against Black Hills State and Chadron State, but didn’t play.
He played his first game since Dec. 17 last Friday, playing six scoreless minutes against New Mexico Highlands.
The next night, at Western New Mexico, his playing time increased to 19 minutes, and he had seven points, one rebound and three assists. Five points came at the free-throw line, which has been his calling card the past two seasons.
“The thing Shawn does is he gets fouled,” CMU coach Jim Heaps said. “He has a knack for getting fouled and getting to the line and knocks them down. It’s really important.”
King came in with a reputation as a scorer after transferring from the University of Chicago last year. He led Class 5A Division 1 teams in Arizona in scoring his senior year at Gilbert (Ariz.) High School.
He reached double figures in six games last season, but he struggled at times getting comfortable in the offense.
“I went through some tough games where I wasn’t scoring, but defense is always a consistent thing you can focus on,” he said. “I try to have my defense feed my offense.
“I don’t shoot the ball nearly as much as I did in high school, but if that’s not my role on the team, then that’s not my role on the team. I’m willing to play defense and try to stop their best player or whoever I need to stop.”
It’s that attitude, and knowing King has the ability to be a breakout scorer, that Heaps likes.
“We talk a lot about giving us another reason to have you on the floor, and if you’ll defend and rebound and hit free throws, that gives us a reason to have you on the floor,” he said.
With King and Landon Vermeer, who has missed two weeks with a back injury, returning, the Mavericks are as healthy as they’ve been all season.
Clay Kame is fighting a foot injury but hopes to play Saturday when CMU (17-6, 14-5 RMAC) plays at Western State Colorado (9-14, 8-11). The Mountaineers are fighting to stay in the RMAC playoff picture, one game out of the No. 8 spot. It’s the 90th meeting of the Western Slope rivals, with Mesa leading the series 59-30.
One more win will secure a first-round home game for Mesa on March 5 in the RMAC tourney.
King is easy to spot — he’s the one with tattoos running up and down his arms, and his surname arched across his back.
His father went with him to get his first tattoo, a crown of basketballs on his right shoulder, because he was under 18, and King was hooked on ink.
He has two favorites, one on his left bicep that features scenery of his hometown of Huntington Beach, Calif., and one on his right forearm he got last summer with a quotation in honor of his father’s 50th birthday.
“There are boundaries. I’ll never get anything you can’t hide, nothing on my neck, my face or hands. Business-friendly, something you can cover with a dress shirt,” he said.
“They all have meaning. A lot of people have spur of the moment (ink). All of mine have thought, tied into family or personal belief.
“I’ve got more body to cover, so when I have kids and a family, I’ll make sure to save them a spot.”