The CQUniversity Cairns Taipans have welcomed their first new player MOJAVE KING to town, as the 17-year old officially makes the move to the Far North to settle into his new home. King joins the club on a three-year deal as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program, which contracts Draft eligible players in order to prepare and fast-track them to the NBA, providing an alternative option to attending college.
Speaking to the local media for the first time today, the projected first round Draft pick admitted that he turned down several offers from big US colleges to join the Taipans.
“Playing in college would’ve been great, but the opportunity to come here and learn from pro athletes, play against pros – I feel like that is going to do a better job of developing me and helping me get to where I want to go. Whether that’s getting to the NBA or becoming the best player I can be,” he said.
“I feel like my style of play would fit very well with the way the Taipans play – I like getting out in lanes and running. They play fast and it looks like they had a lot of fun last season. That’s something I want to be a part of.”
Taipans Head Coach Mike Kelly said that despite the current Queensland restrictions, it will still be beneficial that King has arrived in Cairns so early in the off-season.
“It’s great to see Mojave here, we’ve been talking to him over the last few months and he’s been all over the world. First down in Canberra at the NBA Global Academy and then out to the States to work out with some great trainers in southern California. He’s a great young guy and I’m getting to know him better every day. I can’t wait to get him on the floor and start to build that basketball relationship,” said Kelly.
“We aren’t allowed do anything on court right now, but instead – we’ll get to talk and go through everything we ran last season and watch film together. Hopefully restrictions will lift soon so we can start to train. I’ve seen that other codes and other states are training, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that fairly quickly too.”
The reigning NBL Coach of the Year also said that King’s attitude has impressed him, and that the new NBL-ABLPA rules (featuring reduced rosters) for the 2020-21 season may see him gain additional experience.
“When we agreed to terms with Mojave, he took a leap of faith and said, “I want to earn my time.” I loved hearing that. He just said – I’m willing to come in and learn and fight for minutes, so you know he’s got some belief in himself and now he’s going to have more responsibility because there is a smaller roster, and there is more opportunities for him than when he originally signed.”