Louisville basketball: After tough season, VJ King reportedly declares for Draft

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 08: V.J. King #13 of the Louisville Cardinals dribbles the ball against the Nicholls State Colonels at KFC YUM! Center on November 8, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 08: V.J. King #13 of the Louisville Cardinals dribbles the ball against the Nicholls State Colonels at KFC YUM! Center on November 8, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Louisville basketball’s VJ King will enter the NBA Draft according to a report, but will not hire an agent.

Last season was supposed to be the year for V.J. King. After going through the rigor that was being a freshman for Rick Pitino, and then playing his sophomore season for a coach not prepared to develop talent at a high level, V.J. King came back for his junior season to play for Louisville basketball and new head coach Chris Mack looking to be the guy many believed he could be.

As a former five star recruit and McDonald’s All-American, the Cleveland native by way of Fairfax, Virginia, had expectations that were through the roof and through two years hadn’t been quite able to live up to them.

Averaging 5.5 and 8.6 points per game respectively in his freshman and sophomore seasons, mental issues and struggles with coaches seemed to be what was holding King back. But under Mack, a true players coach known for getting the best out of his players, King was hopefully headed to stardom in Louisville.

After packing on 10+ pounds of solid muscle and getting a summer to get used to Mack’s style of play, King started the first half of the season for Louisville but still looked like the same guy we had seen over the course of his first few years. Hesitancy with the ball, settling for bad shots, and not asserting his will all led V.J. King to a reserve role, and eventually becoming the odd man out of the rotation.

King finished season on a higher note than where he was in the end, but ultimately took a huge step back in development going from 8.6 points per game to 3.9 points, 3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, shooting 36% from the field and just 11% from three.

Many expected King to transfer away at the end of the season for a fresh start, and while that may still happen, it was reported today that King would instead be putting his name into the 2019 NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent.

To say this is a head-scratching move would be a bit of an understatement considering the tumultuous season that King had as a junior. However, the new NCAA rules allow for any players, star or bench warmer, to declare for the draft without hiring an agent to receive feedback about their chances of playing at the next level.

For King, who will “keeping all options open” the decision will up to him on whether he wants to move on from Louisville and begin a professional career, come back to the Ville and continue working towards his degree, or move on and pursue a fresh start at another university.

King was the talk of fans throughout the majority of the season due to his up and down (mostly down) play last year, but getting a refocused senior back could be a huge win for Louisville.

As Chris Mack said in his post-season press conference last week:

"“It’s 2019. Rosters are fluid. My job as I see it is to be very, very honest with our players and I expect the same in return. … At times you are on the complete same page as we go forward and sometimes there’s got to be a lot of thought both by the coach, by the players. So to say that we sit here and we’re ready to go for 2019-20 in terms of what our roster looks like would probably be inaccurate. I do know that we’re never settled in terms of we’re always looking to see how we can improve on our team.”"

Keeping his options open is a smart move for King, especially considering what he’s been through during his three years at Louisville. Returning or leaving as a transfer wouldn’t be a shock to many, but the only scenario that would be surprising at this point would be V.J. King keeping his name in the 2019 Draft even with him not being anywhere near NBA ready.

Next. Looking at potential roster turnover for 2019-20. dark

The junior wing will join Jordan Nwora and Steven Enoch in the Louisville basketball players who have declared for the NBA Draft pool. All three will have until May 29th to decide whether they will return to school, or forgo their eligibility to pursue professional opportunities.