With the season just getting started, one senior weighs in on last year’s success and his expectations for the new season.
Immanuel King, senior forward,joined the men’s basketball team in 2016 after transferring from Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama.
In his first season, King started in 23 of the 36 games he played in. King averaged 5.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.The forward led the team with 56.6 percent in field goal percentage and 38 blocked shots. King tied for sixth in most blocked shots in a single season in the program’s history.
Along with being named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team,King helped the Bobcats to the Sun Belt Conference Championship game against Troy. King finished the game with 11 points, eight rebounds and a season-high of five blocks.
With last season ending, the Bobcats lost key players in the lineup. Only two players from the starting five were left, which included King and Nijal Pearson, sophomore guard.
Along with being one of the two starters left, King is also one of three seniors. With that said, stepping up as a leader is important to King.
“The coaches told me that I need to be one of the ones to step up,” King said. “I feel that I am fulfilling that role so far because I am one of the guys who is letting the other people know what should be done. I try and be a role model for the rest of the team on and off the court.”
The applied arts and science major is looking for himself and other key players like Pearson and Nedeljko Prijovic, sophomore forward, to step up this season.
“All the people who are returning have to be the ones to step up,” King said. “We have to be the ones to show the new teammates the ropes since we know what is expected of us already. Nijal and I are the ones who should take the job because we are returning starters.”
Before stepping up, King had to realize what being a leader is to him. The North Carolina nativedescribed the a leader as someone who motivates the team and tries to keep everyone on the same page.
“As a leader, you should speak up and help guide the team in the right direction,” King said. “I am really nice and respectful about it, but there are some instances that I have to be mean.”
Although the season has just commenced, King already sees the difference in relationships with his old teammates and the new ones.
“We have a really talented group this year, but last year we were really close,” King said. “We grew as a team and it made it easier to play and win together. Once we really start to connect with each other this year, it will be easier for us to get things done.”
King has set season expectations for himself and the team. King’s biggest goal this season is to receive the SBC championship ring.
“For myself, my expectations are just to play my hardest to help the team win,” King said. “My biggest goal at the end is to get that ring. As a team, we just need to win. The most important games are the conference games, so those are the ones we have to really prepare for in the preseason.”
King hopes this new season can be just as record-breaking as last season or better. The Bobcats finished the 2016-17 season 22-14 and were one win away from participating in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“Last season was filled with a lot of doubt,” King said. “Not too many people thought we could do what we did, and we proved them wrong. This year is all about proving more people wrong and getting that ring in March.”