During his first week of practice for the 2007-08 season with the Miami men’s basketball team, center Anthony King took a fall and had a scary flashback.
In only the eighth game of the season last year, King sustained what became a season-ending injury to his wrist during the first half of the ACC opener against Georgia Tech. Although it eventually confined him to the sideline for the rest of the year, he admits not realizing the seriousness of the injury at the start.
“At first I didn’t feel it, and I hopped right back up,” King said. “I looked at my wrist and saw it was out of place, and I just popped it back in.”
King, who had been leading the ACC in rebounding at the time, did not take any painkillers and left the arena wearing only a soft cast. It was not until he got home that he really began to feel the pain. After meeting with doctors and seeing his MRI results, he realized he would not be able to return to the court for the remainder of the season. As a senior, King was forced to take a medical redshirt and return to UM for a fifth year.
“It was hard watching my teammates going through everything they were going through and knowing I couldn’t do anything,” he said, referring to a stretch in which the team lost 11 of 13 games, including a seven-game losing streak. “My mind told me I could do more than my wrist would allow. I had to start from scratch.”
After using the rest of the season and the summer to recover, King has been able to return to the court in full form. The spill he took during practice served as a litmus test for his health, and he was able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that he could handle the physical nature of the basketball court once again.
“I knew everything was okay,” King said. “I took a fall and I hopped right back up. That’s when I knew, no more worries.”
The return of King is a significant factor for the Hurricanes, who will rely on his leadership on and off the court. Coach Frank Haith also hopes to play inside out this year on offense, so the experience King brings offensively will also be important to the team’s success.
“He’s someone we would hope to get a lot of offense out of, not only in the post, but on the perimeter and on the free throw line, too,” said Haith, who was impressed with the improvements King has made with his shooting. “I’ve seen his offensive game take another step.”
With King unable to help his team on the court last season, he took the liberty to be more vocal from the sideline. His development in this area has been noticed by his teammates.
“When he got injured, he had to become more of a vocal leader,” said junior forward Jimmy Graham. “That was probably the biggest improvement to his game. In the past we had a lot of leaders, but no one to take that vocal lead. To have that now is going to be a big advantage.”
Graham, who sustained a broken hand last season, was forced to sit out eight games. During his injury, it was King’s support that helped him bounce back with a newfound aggression.
“He kept me focused and kept pushing me,” Graham said. “He was the one who really challenged me to get healthy and help us win. He kind of helped me develop my game as far as coming out of my shell last year.”
With the upcoming season quickly approaching, King is ready to get back on the court and do the things he was restricted from doing a year ago. As a starter and potential team captain, King recognizes that his leadership skills will also be expected.
“I feel great,” King said. “My role is to help guys along because I’ve been through it. I know some of the things that coach may expect.”
Joel Brown may be contacted at email@example.com.