When the Cheshire Phoenix announced the capture of Taylor King in the summer, plenty of eyebrows were raised in the basketball fraternity.
The signing of the 26-year-old Californian was a major signal of intent by head coach John Coffino’s Nix, with King having been tipped for NBA stardom during his time in high school.
King was a one-time McDonald’s All-American out of high school and played alongside current NBA stars Kevin Love, Chase Budinger and Brandon Jennings in the 2007 annual All-American game, which showcases the finest basketball talent the US has to offer.
On the national radar, King committed to Duke, one of the most renowned basketball programmes in the country, under the tutelage of lauded hall-of-famer coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose 34-years at the helm of the Blue Devils has seen him become a legend in the collegiate game.
But with a media hype surrounding his burgeoning career, King, known for his effortless three-point shot, was dogged with off-court problems and struggled for form in his debut year, stuck behind current Detroit Piston Kyle Singler in the rotation.
With the weight of expectation laying heavy on his shoulders, after one season in Durham, North Carolina, King opted to move to Villanova college before ending up at Concordia in his final year.
He said: “My college career was a little rocky. I transferred a few times, played for some great teams, a hall of famer coach, and another well respected coach.
“But I did things off the court that didn’t put me in a position to be successful on the floor and I’ve had to learn from those mistakes.
“I was a McDonald’s All American in high school so the hype was crazy and it definitely took a toll on me.
“But I’m 26-years-old going on 27 now so I have definitely grown up grown past those things and have a great support system around me that want me to succeed as well as myself.
“I’m here now and making the most of my situation.”
Following his heady college days, the 6ft 8ins forward has taken in spells Canada’s NBL for the London Lightning and Quebec Kebs, a stint in Taiwan for Dacin Tigers as well as an appearance for the USA Select team in China.
For the Nix so far this season, King has been a revelation. The charismatic Huntingdon Beach native has averaged 18.7 points in his 10 BBL games.
Already a hit with fans at the Northgate Arena, King says he is enjoying plying his trade on English soil and wants to play his part in winning some silverware with Coffino’s men.
“I’m pleased with my play so far but it’s a long season and if I want to continue my success and want more then I have to continue to get better each day,” he said.
“If I keep getting better and better and working on my game each day then it will all pay off on the floor, and as a team I can’t wait to see what we can do when we all get in sync. We will be a tough team to beat.”
With the Nix having added ex-NBA star Julius Hodge to their roster this season and signing the world’s tallest basketball player, 7ft 8ins Paul Sturgess last week, the crowds have begun to flock back to the Northgate Arena in recent weeks as the club have put together a winning run.
For King, like much of the Nix roster, it is his first experience of the BBL, but he says he has been pleased with the standard and reserved praise for the vocal Nix fans who are turning out to watch him and his team-mates in action.
He said: “I really didn’t know much about the BBL and I’m finding it comfortable being here. Coach and the team are great and it’s been a good experience thus far. The standard here is good.
“We have the best fans in the league from what I have seen so far and I’m assuming that won’t change. Our support is awesome and the fan support is extremely important in this league and I’m looking forward to it continuing.
“As for me, I’m enjoying the situation I’m in right now and I’m just taking things one day at a time.”