STARKVILLE • There was never any doubt that Elias King could score with the basketball.
The former four-star forward is now fine-tuning the other aspects of his game during his freshman year at Mississippi State so that he can become a more well-rounded player and earn more playing time.
“I still need to work on my defense and rebounding,” King said. “I came here as an offensive player but in college, you’ve got to have the total package.”
Coach Ben Howland has seen King improve since his arrival in Starkville last summer. The 6-foot-8, 205-pounder has gotten better with his defense thanks to adding size and strength in the weight room.
“It’s something that’s never really been emphasized with him like a lot of high school kids,” Howland said. “You’ve got to understand that you’ve got to play both ends of the floor to play at this level to contribute to a winning team and a winning program. He’s also gotten bigger and stronger. He’s done a good job in the weight room and put on probably 10 to 12 pounds at least of muscle.”
King is also adjusting to how the game is played on the college level after being able to dominate mostly smaller competition at Lincoln Academy in Suwanee, Georgia.
“Sometimes I was matched up against guys that were my height but some were shorter,” King said. “But I’ve never been matched up with guys like Robert Woodard who are 6-6, 230 or 240. The physicality, speed and intensity of the (college) game is different. Every possession matters.”
King credits going against Woodard and D.J. Stewart Jr. with helping him improve at practice on a daily basis.
“Of course I would like to play more but learning from guys like that can help you whenever your time does come,” King said. “I feel like I’ve been doing well in practice lately so whenever my number is called, I’ll be ready to perform on the court.”
King has seen action in six games this season and scored 10 points along with two rebounds and one assist. He has made four of his seven shot attempts, two of which have been 3-pointers.
King scored five points on 2 of 2 shooting at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 24.
“It was great,” King said. “I really didn’t know I was going to get to play that game but he threw me in. The first shot I took, when it left my hands I knew it was going in.”
King has also made every shot so far in SEC play. He had a layup against Missouri and nailed a 3-pointer against Georgia.
King was one of the top 150 recruits in the 2019 class and drew 19 scholarship offers. He was previously committed to both Georgia and South Carolina before settling in with the Bulldogs.
“It’s a family-oriented program,” King said. “They all care about you deeply. It’s bigger than basketball, they care about you as a person.”