Despite committing to New Mexico last fall, 2021 3-star forward Jamel King felt the call from West Virginia was too loud to decline. Especially when the man on the other side of the phone is Bob Huggins.
King (6-foot-7, 180 pounds) officially committed to WVU Thursday night, quickly pledging himself to the Mountaineers after de-committing from New Mexico earlier this month. He also had offers from Alabama State, Arkansas State, Cal State Northridge, East Tennesse State, Grand Canyon, Kennesaw State, Mercer, Samford, South Alabama, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech, Troy, UAB and Winthrop.
“I feel like I fit West Virginia because Bob Huggins, he’s a future Hall of Fame coach,” King told WVSN. “I feel like he can develop me, push me and make me become a better player. Make me become the best player I can possibly be.”
With Bob Huggins in place at WVU, the Mountaineers have been one of the most consistent teams in the country, consistently making the NCAA Tournament — with the occasional trip to the second week of the exclusive tournament and sometimes beyond.
With Huggins sometimes gaining a stern, firey reputation, King felt like he’s seen Huggins as a cool, down-to-earth kind of coach. And his respect for the WVU coaching staff doesn’t stop at the top either.
“Me and the assistants are really close,” King said. “We’ve been keeping in touch every day. Coach [Erik] Martin has been making sure that everything’s gone smoothly. Coach Huggins on the Zoom call yesterday was down to earth. He looked like a fun guy.”
The coaching staff in place at WVU was a big reason in drawing King to Morgantown, but the opportunity to play in a better conference, against better competition, was an opportunity that he felt like he couldn’t pass up.
Originally from Alabama, King moved out to Scottsdale, Arizona for his senior season of basketball, playing for Bella Vista College Prep. In his lone season with the Bears, he scored 16 points per game, shooting an astonishing 53% from 3-point range on 57 attempts, while grabbing four rebounds and dishing two assists per game.
While he’s back in Alabama right now, it won’t be for long. The WVU coaching staff wants King up in Morgantown next week, so he said he’d be up there as soon as possible.
Once he’s finally in Morgantown, finally able to suit up as a Mountaineer, he’s most excited to be able to play at the WVU Coliseum; he’s most excited for the fans to be back.
“The crowd, man,” King laughed. “The crowd. Ever since COVID, I feel like the crowds play a big role in some games. The crowd is going to be really crazy this year, that’s going to be the best part about it. Bringing back the fans.”
If given the chance as a freshman, King is excited to light up the Coliseum with high-flying dunks and 3-point sharpshooting the most. He said he’s a player who will hit shots, big-time shots especially. As a tall, long forward, King offers a surprisingly clean stroke from beyond the arc, and he flashes his athleticism with acrobatic layups and dunks.
If all goes well, King is just hopeful that he can be a fan favorite at the Coliseum.