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Report: Minnesota forward Joey King eligible to play immediately

Oct 17, 2013, 8:14 PM EDT

Minnesota Athletics Minnesota Athletics

With the NCAA denying Rakeem Buckles’ request for an immediate eligibility waiver (Buckles thus returned to FIU), Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino found himself in need of some additional size entering his first season at the Big Ten school. On Thursday the Golden Gophers received some good news from the NCAA, as Drake transfer Joey King had his request for an immediate eligibility waiver granted.

The news was first reported by Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com.

In his lone season at Drake, King posted averages of 6.9 points and 6.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 19 minutes of action per game. King’s best performance came in a 77-65 loss to Missouri State in which he accounted for 21 points and seven rebounds. For the season the 6-foot-9 Eagan, Minn. native reached double digits in scoring ten times and reached double digits in rebounds twice (career-high 11 boards in a win over Illinois State on January 12). For his efforts King was named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Freshman Team.

King being cleared gives Minnesota a total of five interior players entering the 2013-14 season, so it likely goes without saying that he’ll be a part of the rotation. In addition to King the Gophers have three juniors, center Elliot Eliason and forwards Maurice Walker and Oto Osenieks, and redshirt freshman Charles Buggs.

Last season the Golden Gophers were the nation’s best in regards to offensive rebounding, as they finished the year with an offensive rebounding percentage of 43.8%. Given their lack of depth inside, Minnesota’s backcourt will be asked to lead the way in 2013-14. Veterans Andre and Austin Hollins (not related) and Maverick Ahanmisi and newcomers Dre Mathieu (junior college transfer), Malik Smith (FIU transfer) will be among the players at Pitino’s disposal on the perimeter.

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