More importantly, she’s embraced the role she once fought: As Cleveland State’s on-court leader, an extension of veteran coach Kate Peterson Abiad, the Elyria High School product is the Vikings’ steady hand as they try to stay alive in the Horizon League tournament tonight at Detroit at 7 p.m.
“She’s grown into the responsibility of being point guard and having control. She likes that feeling,” Peterson Abiad said after Monday night’s 59-56 win over Youngstown State. “I’m really pleased with where she is right now. There were times where I wasn’t sure she would get there. It wasn’t that she wasn’t capable, but she didn’t really want this role.”
Always a scorer at Elyria High School, where she was named second-team All-Ohio and Lorain County Miss Basketball after averaging 19.2 points per game as a senior in the 2007-08 season, the transition to the point at CSU hasn’t always been smooth.
She red-shirted the 2008-09 season, as Peterson Abiad saw King’s future at the point but already had twins Jessica and Angel Roque in the backcourt.
The next season, King played sparingly in 13 games. As a sophomore last year, she started seven times, but still searched for a bigger role.
She’s gotten it this year, despite still more bumps in the road. She sat out the first three games of the season due to disciplinary issues Peterson Abiad said were part of “growing pains with Honesty becoming the player she needs to be here.”
But King has rebounded, taking the reins at point guard when Janelle Adams missed five games at midseason with an injury. King averages 32.8 minutes per game, second most on the team. She’s played 35 minutes or more in 15 games as the Vikings deal with a short bench because of the absence of senior post player Destinee Blue, who has left the team.
King has scored in double figures 13 times, including Monday, when she scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, her first career double-double. That included baskets on two straight possessions late in the first half as YSU threatened to extend its early lead, and later three crucial free throws in a sloppy, seesaw game that YSU had three chances to tie on its final possession.
This season, King is shooting only 31 percent from the floor, but is known around the Horizon League as a shooter: She had the respect of the Penguins, who Monday ran defenders at her at the 3-point line — allowing King to maneuver into the lane and either set up a teammate or score herself.
“My role has changed,” King said when asked if folks familiar with her at Elyria would recognize her game today. “I didn’t expect to play point guard here, but now I’m getting the ball to the people who need it. I still try to play like me, but I’m driving more. I used to reply on the 3-point shot (in high school).”
King’s teammates have taken to the new her, too. After Adams returned from her injury and went back to point guard, Peterson Abiad said the team simply didn’t respond to her, so back came King. On the court, King has paired with fellow junior and roommate Shalonda Winton as the team’s most consistent players.
“She’s matured as a person, on and off the court,” said Winton, who Monday was named a first-team All-Horizon League pick. “She’s a better decision maker, and knows when to shoot, when to pass.”
Peterson Abiad did not rule out a return to off guard for King, with freshman Kiersten Green showing potential at point guard.
Whatever happens, King, a social work major, should handle it fine. When the depleted Vikings got into foul trouble Monday, Green entered, King moved off the ball and made plays just the same.
Peterson Abiad also touted King’s defense, which wasn’t always one of her strong suits.
“Her high school coach (Mike Walsh) came to a game a month ago, and he said, ‘I can’t believe it. She is playing the point, being a leader, playing defense,’” Peterson Abiad said of her conversation with Walsh. “Now, she gets it. She’s emerging into exactly the player we need her to be. She’s a really versatile player for us.”
- POINTS: 9.0
- ASSISTS: 1.8
- REBOUNDS: 4.0
- STEALS: 1.2
- MINUTES: 32.8
- FIELD GOAL PCT: .309
- FREE THROW PCT: .725
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.