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Emma King knew freshman year at UK would be hard — but it was even harder than she ever imagined

Emma King found out older, stronger players could bully her with their strength. (Vicky Graff Photo)


She scored over 2,500 points and had 750 rebounds in her high school career at Lincoln County and was nearly a 40 percent shooter from 3-point range.

Yet Emma King played in just 15 games her freshman season at Kentucky, scored only 21 points after averaging 18.5 points per game her final high school season and had just four 3-pointers all season.

So was she not as good as she thought or was Southeastern Conference play just tougher than she expected?

“I try to stay pretty humble. I have had confidence issues over the years,” King said. “I knew this would be the hardest thing I have ever have to do. I thought (Nike) EYBL might prepare me more from going against bigger and stronger players there. I thought if I could play EYBL with some success I could play college but the difference is you are playing older players, sometimes 22 or 23 years old at times.

“The pace in college is so different, too. I heard about that my whole life but I didn’t realize know until the first game. It was just incredibly different.

“As somebody who has always struggled with my confidence despite the success I’ve had, it made me realize that I have a whole lot of work to do. I had a lot of older teammates in front of me and I learned from their wisdom and basically had a year to figure out how to do things.”

She figured out quickly she had to get bigger and stronger and has gained about 25 pounds since her high school graduation, including close to 15 last summer after she got to UK in June.

“Last summer, that was pure muscle. I had never worked out like that before. We never lifted (weights) a lot in high school. We have access to all the food we wanted. Me and Blair (Green) would work out in the morning and then walk over and cook lunch,” King said.

“I was eating more protein filled food and it helped. But I still struggled in practice. I came in scrawny and got pushed around. People like (All-American) Rhyne (Howard) just bullied me when they wanted.”

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