King enjoys ‘once in a lifetime’ all-star experience

It certainly was not the most offensively productive game of Damien King’s career, but that really was not what was important Wednesday evening.

The Anderson junior is gearing up for his senior season with big goals in mind, but his evening in Kokomo with many of the state’s best basketball players was an enjoyable diversion from the grind.

King scored one point and grabbed four rebounds for the Juniors team, but hometown hero and Mr. Basketball Flory Bidunga electrified the Memorial Gym crowd with 34 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Indiana All-Stars to a 104-96 victory in the final tune-up for their games against Kentucky.

“It was electrifying, and it was a huge crowd,” King said. “It was fun and games.”

In the girls' contest earlier in the evening, Maya Makalusky of Hamilton Southeastern scored 13 points and the juniors overcame a 27-6 first-quarter deficit to defeat the seniors 83-80.

In limited first-half minutes, King missed both field goal attempts and did not score but grabbed a pair of rebounds.

In a pair of second-half stints, he had two more rebounds — both on the offensive end — and converted one into an assist. Late in the game, he collected a steal near midcourt and was fouled on his way to the basket for a dunk.

He converted one of two free throws to get into the scoring column.

“I knew I had to play some defense and get the ball back,” King said. “I couldn’t make the dunk, but I got the foul.”

Also on the juniors team were King’s sectional rivals Julius Gizzi from New Palestine and Braylon Mullins of Greenfield-Central. King enjoyed catching up with the regular-season foes, and the topic of the future postseason did come up.

“It felt good actually to get out there and hoop,” King said. “We’re all good friends at the end of the day. … We caught up and talked about sectional, actually.”

Gizzi scored 14, and Mullins added 13 points for the juniors.

King is the first Madison County boys player selected for the All-Stars series since Sean McDermott of Pendleton Heights was picked for the senior team in 2015 and the first Anderson player since DeJovaun Sawyer-Davis — also a senior — and junior Antwaun Boyd, who were both picked in 2006.

He led Anderson to a 19-6 record last season, including the team’s third straight Madison County championship. King averaged 23.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per contest while shooting 60% overall from the floor and 80% at the free-throw line.

King adds this was a memorable experience but was little more than a fun time on the court. His real work — which has been ongoing — continues Thursday.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been in the lab consistently, and we play (Thursday) actually. I’ve just been getting ready for that.”

King is currently entertaining Division I offers from Purdue-Fort Wayne, Northern Illinois, Southern Indiana, Kent State, IU-Indianapolis, Evansville and Western Carolina.

This article appeared in The Herald Bulletin.