King brings added skill as transfer for Mavs
Colorado Mesa men’s basketball coach Jim Heaps thought he landed a player last year with the ability to create his own shot similar to Michael Dominguez.
Heaps and associate head coach Andy Shantz thought they had a good shot at signing Shawn King, but the Arizona Class 5A Division I player of the year signed with Division I University of Illinois-Chicago in the final days of the signing period in 2010.
A year later, King left Chicago and is playing for Heaps this season.
“We needed a perimeter player,” Heaps said. “We lost Russ (Gregory) and had an opportunity to get a player back with (King’s) caliber. We already had a relationship with Shawn and knew what we were getting. It was the best of both worlds.”
The 6-foot-4 sophomore is quickly finding his role with the Mavs. Last weekend, he scored 29 points in two games and is averaging 10 points per game through four games off the bench.
Colorado Mesa (2-2) begins RMAC play this weekend, hosting Chadron State (0-4) at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Nebraska-Kearney (2-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Brownson Arena.
“It’s a tribute to Shawn and his ability to be coached,” Heaps said. “It does take a while (for a new player) to feel comfortable in what we’re doing. He struggled some early knowing when to shoot, pass and play motion. What I think is interesting is he’s gotten better every game.”
King quickly developed into a scoring threat after a growth spurt in middle school led him to play basketball. He finished his high school career with more than 1,000 points and was a two-time all-state pick.
“I signed with Illinois-Chicago thinking the coach that signed me would be there when I got there, but he retired,” King said.
“They brought in a different coach. He gave everybody on the team a year to see how things worked out. We didn’t have a very good season. Some of the players didn’t match up with the coach’s style. After the season he relieved everybody but two or three guys.”
King was granted his release to find a different school last spring and immediately contacted Heaps and Shantz.
“(The Mesa coaches) made it real easy,” King said. “I had a great visit when I came here (during his senior year of high school). I really enjoyed Coach Shantz and Heaps. It stuck in the back of my head if it didn’t work out this was definitely a place I wanted to be.”
Heaps was more than happy to welcome King back.
“We never close the door on recruits,” Heaps said. “I know some college coaches that get angry when a kid makes a decision. Our approach is it’s a hard decision to make. If he doesn’t pick Mesa at that time, what are you going to do? You say, ‘Congratulations, good luck and if anything changes, gives us a call.’ Their coach leaves and he gave us a call.
“I never tell a kid he made a bad decision. It’s his to make. I may not agree with it or I’d maybe make a different decision, but there are a lot of good programs out there.”
King didn’t stop at talking to the coaches. He wanted to make sure he’d fit in the program, so he did some research.
Another Division I transfer, Dominguez, helped lead the Mavericks to the NCAA tournament in 2009-10. King contacted Dominguez through Facebook and asked if they could get together in the summer.
“I got in touch with him and told him I was coming here and saw that he transferred from a Division I,” King said. “I asked him how the transfer went and if there was anything I can do to be as dominant of a player as he was. We played a lot of 1-on-1 over the summer. He really helped me with my game.”