Meet Mojave King: Brisbane's next NBA prospect

Mojave King is officially on the NBA radar, but despite growing up in Queensland, he's yet to represent Australia.

The 17 year old was born in New Zealand, where his American father Leonard was coaching. A star import for the Otago Nuggets in the 90s, Leonard King also happens to be the 4th-highest scorer in NZNBL history. Despite links to New Zealand however, he is very much a Queenslander. His family moved to Mackay in 2007, before settling in Brisbane four years later. Leonard King emphatically stated in an April interview that his son "is going to play for Australia".

King hasn't worn the green and gold yet due to eligibility issues. He holds dual citizenship with the USA and New Zealand, but lacked an Australian passport as of April. King was hence unable to play in the FIBA Under-17 Oceania Championships, held earlier this year in New Caledonia.

Unfortunately, the 6'4 guard will be too old to compete at next year's FIBA Under-17 World Championships. Our next opportunity to see King in Australian colours will therefore be at the 2021 FIBA Under-19 championships. King's availability will be questionable however, as he is a class of 2021 prospect. The Brisbane native was recently ranked 31st in ESPN's first mock draft for 2021, and may be occupied with NBA draft or college basketball preparations.

From Brisbane to the top

Prior to 2019, King attended Brisbane State High, a school boasting alumni such as Brock Motum and Chris Goulding. In January this year, he joined the NBA Global Academy, which is based at Basketball Australia's Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Canberra.

King made three NBL1 appearances in March, playing for his new home - the BA CoE. This brief stint in the newly-created league (replacing the former SEABL) included a standout performance against the Ringwood Hawks - he scored 24 points in just 18 minutes.

The Queenslander then headed to Minneapolis in April, where he caught the eye of American scouts at the Global Academy showcase. ESPN NBA draft analyst Jonathan Givony was in the audience, and praised King's performances.

Givony ranked him 31st in a recent 2021 mock draft, although this may be a conservative estimate. Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports Australia believes he has "the tools to crack the lottery".

The 6'4 guard subsequently headed home, representing QLD South at the Australian under-18 championships just weeks later. King led all scorers with 26.6 points per game, while shooting 45% from the field.

The Brisbane native is a versatile scorer with above-the-rim athleticism. He is comfortable shooting on the perimeter, but truly excels in the paint. King was the competition leader in both free throw makes and free throw percentage at the Under-18 championships, highlighting his ability to draw contact for easy buckets.

King then took his talents to Atlanta, representing Australia at the NBA Academy Games in July. He led the tournament in scoring, as part of a victorious Australian side. American scouts again took note, with several NCAA Division I colleges showing interest in the athletic guard.

The next step

King's impressive year culminated with Division I offers from Arizona and Baylor. Arizona is a familiar name for Australian basketball fans, with Josh Green currently based there.

The Queenslander visited both schools last month, and there should be several offers still to come. ESPN's Jonathan Givony indicated that he will have the "pick of the litter of American colleges". King is reportedly "leaning towards attending college", but his future isn't 100% decided. With the advent of the NBL's Next Stars program, turning professional has never been more appealing.

King also has the option of joining an American prep school before starting his collegiate or professional career. He would be following in the footsteps of Ben Simmons, Jonah Bolden and Isaac Humphries to name a few.

In a July interview, the Brisbane product aimed to have a decision by "mid-2020". With the range of options at his disposal, the future looks bright for Mojave King.