Sometimes in life it’s about tuning out the crowd, listening to your heart, and going with your dream.
“For as long as I can remember I’ve had a ball in my hands, but I think like third grade was probably the time I started playing organized basketball and ever since then it’s been pretty much all I’ve done.”
South Dakota State true freshman Owen King knew when he was young that his dream was to play division one basketball.
“I was always engaged in listening to people and my dad would take me to older team’s practices and I would just listen to the coaches and try to learn everything I could and really let it sink in,” said Owen King.
“We had discussions when he was younger that it’s possible, even though there were people telling him it’s not possible. Then we would have discussions later again stressing don’t let somebody else control your dreams or whatever they are,” said Owen’s father Brad King.
A dream is just that thought if you can’t put it into action. Owen had the idea but not the confidence. He needed that one person to believe in him, to tell him he could.
He loves basketball, he’s committed to it, he’s everything that I would wanted in a point guard,” said SDSU Men’s Head Basketball Coach T.J. Otzelberger.
What if that point guard’s true athletic talent wasn’t in basketball though? Five and a half hours away from Brookings in the small town of Caledonia, Minnesota, Owen was lethal on the football field.
The Big Ten football recruit threw 139 touchdowns and more than 8,600 yards as a quarterback at Caledonia High School. He was the 2017 AP Football Player of the Year and went 41-0 as a starting quarterback, leading the Warriors to three consecutive state titles.
“I enjoyed football during football, but the main reason I enjoyed football was just being with my friends that I grew up with and helping them succeed because a lot of them loved football even more,” said Owen.
King’s high school basketball career didn’t go unnoticed either, he scored more than 2,000 points, was a Mr. Basketball finalist, and guided the Warriors to four state tournaments. Football versus basketball. Which one would win? It goes back to having that dream, and it was a dream on the hardwood.
“I chose basketball over football just because I’ve always loved basketball more. I think a lot of people were surprised or shocked with my decision, but. I didn’t want to do something because other people wanted me to do it. I like football a lot and I love the game, but I wanted to play basketball everyday,” said Owen.
“He needed somebody to tell him he was going to be able to play division one basketball. His goal was always to play at the highest level, he kept football open but his whole point was as soon as someone would tell him he would play division basketball that was it,” said Brad.
That person who gave him a chance was Coach T.J. Otzelberger.
“We were familiar with his success as a football athlete and obviously when you’re a quarterback the leadership position you play... and so I fell in love with Owen early on in the recruiting process,” said Otzelberger.
“Coach TJ was the main reason, I felt like he had everything in place for me to come in and be successful right away and help this team win at a high level. They have made it to the tournament a lot and that’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NCAA Tournament,” said Owen.
In just his first year at SDSU, Owen is already making an impact. He leads the Jackrabbit bench in minutes and is second on the team in assists.
“We don’t take it for granted at all, the loyalty I have to him is off the charts. I have belief in him that he is an all-conference point guard in this league for multiple years, and so we’re going to continue to challenge him to be at his best,” said Otzelberger.
His father coached him from when he started the game, all the way through high school, now that Coach Otzelberger is paving Owen’s collegiate career dad has to take a step back, and that can be tough for a dad to do.
“I think every opportunity I got to be with Owen whether as a coach or a parent was a joy, something that I was very fortunate to be involved in that and being able to be involved that much. There’s still people to this day that will tell him I can’t believe you didn’t go play football, there’s people that tell it to me. From a young age he was told it’s your life, not your mom and dads, not your uncle’s, not your brother and sisters, it’s yours,” said Brad.
From having the dream to embracing the dream, Owen is now living the dream.
“I’m extremely happy, there’s no place I’d rather be right now,” said Owen.
South Dakota State has already expressed interest in Owen’s two younger brothers as well in basketball, they’re also both quarterbacks. The Jackrabbits close out the regular season on Saturday, when they host Western Illinois.