V.J. King, a 6-7, 180-pound guard/forward from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Va.; and Frankie Hughes, a 6-3, 170-pound guard from Garfield Heights (Ohio) High School have each signed a national letter-of-intent to continue their basketball playing careers at the University of Louisville.
King averaged 18.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists as a junior last season in helping Paul VI to a 20-15 record. A first-team all-state, all-area and all-conference selection as a junior, King is ranked No. 21 nationally by Scout.com, 24th by Rivals.com, 25th by 247Sports.com and is No. 27 in the ESPN 100.
“We’ve been after V.J. for a long, long time,” said Pitino. “We needed a player in our program who can play multiple positions and can handle, score, and pass the ball. He has an incredible attitude. We all fell in love with him because of what he brings to the table on the court between the lines as well as off the court. He’s exactly what we want. We think he has an unbelievable future.”
King earned all-tournament honors at two high school events last season, including the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions in Springfield, Mo.; and the City of Palms Classic in Ft. Myers, Fla., where he had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Paul VI in the fifth-place final game. He scored a season-high 38 points against Chaminade Prep in January, hitting 12-of-19 shots from the field.
Originally from North Carolina, King moved to Akron, Ohio, where he played at St. Vincent-St. Mary — the alma mater of LeBron James — through his sophomore season before transferring. He averaged 16.2 points as a sophomore in helping SVSM to a 19-10 record and 2013 Ohio Division II State Tournament semifinals.
As a freshman, he averaged 16.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and four blocked shots as SVSM advanced to the 2013 Ohio Division II State Tournament finals and posted a 20-12 record.
King has won two gold medals as a member of two USA Basketball team in the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay, averaging 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds; and the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates where he averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds. He participated in the 2015 USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp in October.
In AAU competition for Team Takover, King was the semifinals MVP at the 2015 Peach Jam in Savannah, Ga. when he totaled 26 points and six rebounds.
His father Vincent King played professional basketball in foreign countries for 10 years after scoring 1,037 points in his collegiate career at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 1988-92.
King chose to sign with the Cardinals after narrowing a host of opportunities to UofL, Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky and Virginia.
Hughes averaged 17 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists as a junior last season in leading Garfield Heights to a 24-4 record and the Ohio Division I semifinals, only the third time the school had advanced to that level in the state tournament. He signed with the Cardinals on Wednesday on his 18th birthday.
Hughes had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the state semifinal game. Current Louisville guard Trey Lewis also played at Garfield Heights, leading his team to the state semifinals during his senior year in 2011. Terry Rozier, who played two seasons with the Cardinals before joining the Boston Celtics this season, also hailed from the Cleveland area at Shaker Heights High School.
“Frankie shoots it well and has good size and length,” said Pitino. “We got in late on him after Richard (Pitino) turned us on to him. They (Minnesota) were recruiting him heavily until they got another player. Richard knew we were looking for a tall guard who could shoot and he thought he was a big-time sleeper. We took a look at him and all four coaches liked him a lot. We’re very excited to have Frankie with us after having Terry and Trey with the connections from Cleveland to our program.”
Hughes is ranked among the nation’s top 200 players by 247Sports.com, Hughes scored a season-high 28 points against Mentor. He averaged 10.7 points per game as a sophomore. He averaged 7.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and three assists during the 2015 summer AAU competition.
His Garfield Heights teammate WIllie Jackson will attend Missouri.
Hughes had also considered Wisconsin, St. Joseph’s, Florida State and Minnesota among his collegiate choices before signing with the Cardinals.
The impressive duo of Hughes and King already has this UofL group ranked among the nation’s top signing classes, currently No. 21 by Scout.com and No. 27 by Rivals.com.