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All−City standout left to wait

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An honor roll student, Rasheem King is mature and grounded.

He had the sense to stay at Xaverian when so many of his other talented teammates, unable to handle the rigors of a Catholic school steeped in discipline, bolted. When his team lacked an inside presence, he dutifully played out of position. He was unselfish and egoless, a role model for Xaverian’s underclassmen.

He did everything right – from academics to basketball. College coaches told Xaverian’s Jack Alesi he was a breath of fresh air, a kid who didn’t dash for the scorer’s table after the final horn, who knew the game inside and out, who could do everything on a basketball court – score, pass, defend and rebound – and who, as assistant coach Chris Alesi said, became a coach on the floor.

Yet, here King waits, eight days before the end of the Early Signing Period without a Division I scholarship offer. The next one will be his first.

“This is more of an indictment on some of the college guys,” Jack Alesi said. “They talk the talk; they don’t walk the walk.”

“They always talk about how they’re frustrated by guys who just up numbers; they want to get rid of kids who play as individuals, and here you have a kid – and every coach in league will vouch for him, he’s a first−team, all−city player – who plays the game the right way. Then when it’s time to decide, (college coaches) go the safe way.”

The longtime Xaverian coach was referring to picking a player who lacked intangibles, but maybe shot a higher percentage or could jumper higher. One college coach told Alesi that King didn’t shoot the ball well enough from the perimeter. Another was turned off by his 9.3 points−per−game average.

New Hampshire showed significant interest, but received a commitment from a kid they didn’t expect, and never offered. The same thing happened with George Washington. Manhattan has shown interest. Mercer College has, too, recently.

Said Chris Alesi: “He’s a kid that should be signed. The system is flawed. It sends the wrong message to kids.”

The 6−foot−4 King doesn’t know what to think. He made the mature decision two years ago, remaining at the program that produced such Big East players as Levance Fields, Chris Taft and Brian McKenzie. He was told the offers would come. They never have.

As fellow CHSAA standouts sign on the dotted line, ensuring their future, King waits, using the words “upset” and “frustrated” to describe his emotions. He can’t help but think about his future, what he lacks that others have.

“Because I’m not putting up 40−point games, people don’t think I can fill it up,” he said, shaking his head in disgust. “People don’t care about (being a good teammate). If they did, I would have scholarship right now. They care about points.”

“I think about it all the time,” the East New York native continued. “Did I make the right decision by staying at Xaverian? Did I do what I had to do to get looks?”

As longtime friend and Bishop Loughlin forward Trevon Hamlet, who is also unsigned, said: “It’s hard to put in all that work and not get anything out of it.”

Talent evaluator Tom Konchalski expects King to find a school, either before May 20 or sometime in July. What King lacks in skill sets, he makes up for in other areas.

“His win is his effort, his heart and his energy level,” Konchalski said. “He’s a good player and good kid, too.”

King wouldn’t change the path he took. He believes that eventually a school will take a flyer on him. He did his best, averaging 16 points per game as a junior and leading the team to the CHSAA Class AA intersectional quarterfinals with upsets of finalists Christ the King and Rice on the resume.

“I think I got the program in the right direction,” he said.

Still, his words lacked conviction. His eyes darted around the room, his mind wandered as he discussed the uneasiness of the situation. He may have to play more AAU basketball, something he isn’t fond of, King said, because it isn’t the sport he loves played the right way. He may not have a choice.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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