GARY | Justin King just sat and watched. Yawned. Game after game after game. Then, a little anger and drive began.
The youngster was cemented to the side at the outdoor asphalt court on 22nd Avenue and Delaware in downtown Gary.
"They wouldn't let me play," said King, now a 6-foot-6 sophomore rising star in the Eagles' boys basketball program. "They said I wasn't good enough. So I just started working."
In seventh grade, King started playing for Terrence Wilburn's Mean Streets AAU basketball program. King did not sit on the sideline there. His game exploded and he arrived at Bowman Academy the year after the Eagles had won the Class A state title.
At Tuesday morning's practice, Bowman coach Marvin Rea had five Eagles running suicides after a poor scrimmage. King's work-ethic was fully seen as he sprinted every second of the punishment.
He also spoke to seniors who have already won state championships about hustling and working. That's been the biggest difference between last winter and now.
"Last year, as a freshman I knew I had to uphold the (state) championship and work hard," King said. "I knew I had to earn my spot. I knew I had a lot of work to do."
Rea laughed when it was brought to his attention how many times the word "work" is in a King sentence. It's almost like the budding star doesn't even notice when he says it.
"That's who he is," Rea said. "If there's any kid in the area who works as hard as Justin -- then send him my way. His basketball IQ is off the charts. He knows the game. That's why everyone is starting to notice him."
Several D-I programs have gone out of their way to watch King work. Marquette, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State, Ball State, Valparaiso and IUPUI all know that King's better days are ahead.
On Saturday, Class 2A No. 10 Bowman will play 4A power Indianapolis Cathedral in the 13th annual Times Region Roundball Rumble. The Irish are very good with some high-major talent.
King will play a big part in how the Eagles compete at the Hammond Civic Center.
"Justin has earned his respect from our seniors," Rea said. "He's matured a lot from last year. His (grade point average) is up to a 3.1. He's learning what it means to be a student athlete. He doesn't talk his game. He does his talking on the court."
At 6-foot-6, King often looks like a guard on the floor. He can dribble, pass and of course, knock down a 3-point shot. But he is also tough around the basket.
DePaul-bound DeJuan Marrero and King have emerged as captains on a team with two other D-I players. King's win-at-all-cost attitude is a reason his star is rising.
"When we're playing bad, he'll let the seniors know it," Rea said. "He believes in holding people accountable. Even himself."
King wants to get Bowman back to Indianapolis in March. He wants this team to play well on a big stage like the Rumble. But there is another dream just over the hill.
There is another court he wants to be allowed to get on.
"I want to play for money," King said. "I want to make money off of something I love."
Cathedral is a money game and King seems ready to cash a check.