Nebraska picked up another transfer commitment on Wednesday as former Wisconsin shooting guard Kobe King chose Nebraska after a midseason departure from the Badgers, a source confirmed to Hail Varsity.
King is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound redshirt sophomore. He was Wisconsin’s second-leading scorer at 10 points per game, and he bumped that average up to 12.6 in conference play. King announced on Instagram on Jan. 29 that he was leaving the Wisconsin program.
“This has been a very tough decision for me, however after spending almost 3 years in the Wisconsin program I have realized that this program is not the right fit for me as a player and person,” King wrote.
Wisconsin released a statement after his announcement.
“Being a student-athlete in the Wisconsin men’s basketball program is a special privilege and opportunity and I’m disappointed that Kobe has chosen to leave, particularly at this point in time,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “But I respect his right to do what he feels is in his best interest. I wish Kobe all the best.”
After announcing his decision, King agreed to an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal to discuss what led to his departure.
“I thought it was best for not only myself—but for (the team)—for me to step away from the program just because I knew my heart wouldn’t be into it again,” King said. “I hear people say I’m a quitter. I talked to five, six (teammates) before I even told the coaches I was thinking of doing this. These were my closest guys, and if one of them would have told me it felt like I was quitting (on them) by doing it right now, I never would have said anything.”
According to the interview, King had some issues with the basketball side of things but the decision was motivated more by off-court treatment by Gard.
In early February, Wisconsin’s strength and conditioning coach, Erik Helland, resigned after an investigation surrounding his use of a racial epithet in front of a few Wisconsin players. King was not among them but heard about it from his teammates and reportedly mentioned it to Wisconsin officials when he met with them, though Helland was also one of the people King thanked in his message on Instagram.
A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, King was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at La Crosse Central after averaging 28.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting 61% from the field and 45% from 3.
He played 10 games and averaged 5.2 points as a freshman at Wisconsin before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He played in all 34 games as a sophomore with one start, averaging 4.2 points on 44.7% from the field and 30.6% from 3 in 19 minutes per game.
King started all 19 games during his redshirt sophomore season, playing 28.5 minutes per game and shooting 45.9% from the field and 25% from 3. In his 63 games as a Badger, he shot 45.4% from the field, 29.6% from 3 and 67.8% from the free-throw line.
King fills Nebraska’s last remaining scholarship for 2020 as things currently stand. Charlie Easley’s scholarship is for this semester. If King receives a waiver from the NCAA to play right away, he’d join a group of three transfers currently sitting out in Dalano Banton, Shamiel Stevenson and Derrick Walker and a pair of junior college transfers currently committed to Nebraska in Teddy Allen and Lat Mayen as newcomers to the lineup.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.