When former Michigan basketball star Jimmy King and the rest of the infamous Fab Five were on the floor together in Ann Arbor, it was not only trend-setting, but also a cultural revolution.
Now, King is hoping to renew some of those old aspects he learned as a freshman Wolverine, while coaching at the high school level.
What you may have been unaware of is that King is the head coach of the Ecorse High School boys varsity basketball team. It’s not only his first year with the school, but also his first season as a head coach at this level. I had the chance to cover King and Ecorse on Saturday in the District 72-C Championship Game at Riverview Gabriel Richard High School, facing the host Pioneers, for MIPrepZone.
And he tells me that he’s been having a blast, and has Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh to thank for the coaching advice.
“It’s awesome man, it’s been real fun,” King said. “I asked the great Jim Harbaugh about coaching, and the best advice he gave me was to just be true to your players, be up front with them and be real with them.”
That advice has more than paid off as the season progressed for King and his Red Raiders.
The team started out 2016/17 losing their first seven contests. Since then, however, Ecorse has rattled off 12 wins in their last 16 games played. This includes a current five-game winning streak that has culminated with a district championship his team earned on Saturday with a 61-57 overtime win over the aforementioned Pioneers of Gabriel Richard.
It’s not King’s first rodeo coaching at the high school level. He spent some years on the bench as an assistant with Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep a few years back. Speaking on this season with Ecorse, he said that their recent hot stretch has been attributed to not only playing more disciplined and physical, but also trusting one another and developing from that “101” level.
Of course being a former Michigan man, King also shared some thoughts on his alma mater and how this edition of the Wolverines have done. Though he wishes he could have seen them play on Saturday in their 84-77 win over Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals.
“I did not watch, I wish I could though,” King said. “I was in Ann Arbor for a meeting this (Saturday) morning. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch it tonight on the recorder, watch my guys go for the championship. Hopefully they do their thing like we did today.”
“I’ve seen patience with the process,” King added, talking about Michigan head coach John Beilein and how the Wolverines have evolved. “They’re trusting the process and now we’re seeing the fruits of that. They haven’t changed the philosophy. It’s kind of mirrored to what we’re doing. We started off slow and it took a while to get some traction, and I think Michigan is doing that as well.”
King put together an strong career donning the maize and blue. He averaged just under 12 PPG over 130 games played, seeing his scoring average increase each of his four seasons at Michigan. He was part of a run at Michigan where they won 13 games over those four seasons and make two appearances in the NCAA National Title game.
The rookie coach King and his Red Raiders of Ecorse have survived and advanced on through MHSAA Class C Districts and into Regionals this upcoming week. Their semifinal match-up will take place at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights on Monday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. ET.