July 11, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – It may seem like Tom Herrion only had to holler across the hardwood-floored Marshall men’s basketball office hallway for his latest hire, but it wasn’t quite that simple.
Josh King was elevated Monday after two seasons as an MU graduate manager to a full-time position, replacing Jorge Fernandez, who resigned last month. For King, 26, getting the full-time post this early in his career is a plum… and he knows it.
When Herrion offered the job back on June 25, it was a dream-come-true.
Then, it became a nightmare.
“Coach called me one day not long after he’d offered the job and said, ‘Uh, is there anything in your background I need to know about?’ I told him he had enough on his plate to worry about, but that my past wasn’t one of those things, so worry about something else.”
When King was going through the vetting that is done by a background-checking firm for the university, it seems another Joshua R. King – from North Carolina, as is the Herd’s new assistant – had, shall we say, some issues.
“They told me, and I knew it had to be a misunderstanding; I didn’t do anything wrong,” King said Tuesday before the Thundering Herd’s first one-hour team workout of the summer. “It was a red flag. At least they’re checking people out rather than just hiring without checking people out. That’s good to know.”
(Now, if he had a name like Jacob A. Bogaczyk III, he might not have that sort of matter to clear up, but I digress … )
And King got things cleared up. He said it seemed the last trouble the “other” Josh King had in the Tar Heel State was while the Herd’s King was in Memphis, Tenn., for the Conference USA tournament in March, when Marshall played four times in four days and finished as runner-up to the host Tigers.
“So, it couldn’t have been me,” King said.
He seems to have taken the confusion pretty good-naturedly, and why not? At 26, he’s the same age Herrion was when the Herd head coach was brought by Coach Pete Gillen from a Division II assistant’s job (Merrimack) to the big time at Providence.
“I guess it does mirror that a little bit,” Herrion said. “I hadn’t really thought much about it. Obviously, I’m a product of getting an incredible opportunity at a young age when Coach hired me at Providence, so I guess, looking back now, I guess this reflects that a little bit, but clearly Josh has earned this opportunity based on his body of work the last two years with us.”
King’s hoop genes run through two storied basketball states. He was born in Indiana. He was a North Carolina Mr. Basketball as a senior at Trinity High School (south of High Point), and he still ranks fourth all-time among North Carolina prep scorers (2,577 points).
He led his team to the 2004 Class 3A State Tournament title and his 164 three-point goals as a 2003-04 senior is still the North Carolina single-season record.
The 6-foot King played two seasons in C-USA as an East Carolina backup, then transferred to Division II Eckerd (Fla.), where he started and averaged 11.3 points per game over his two seasons. Before being hired by Herrion as a Marshall GA, King coached at Division III Vassar and Division II UMass-Lowell.
He didn’t just get the job through convenience. Herrion said there was interest from “hundreds” of callers, “from all realms of experience, former head coaches … I was really overwhelmed early on by the level of interest. There were a couple of guys in mind besides Josh, but he earned the job.”
King said the issue won’t be his age, but what he does with his new role.
“You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity,” King said of getting a major college job at 26. “I know I’d done the best I could do here the last two years, and obviously Coach Herrion and the staff have made Marshall a very marketable place.
“There’s no magic, no book that you’ll be this or that by a certain age. I’m sure if you asked (VCU Coach) Shaka Smart if he thought he’d be in a Final Four at age 32, there’s no way he would have figured that.”
King gets a quick baptism. He’ll head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., this weekend for his first recruiting venture at Big Shots. He’s scheduled to go to Philadelphia next week and then Richmond, Va., after that, but “it’s wherever Coach Herrion wants me. I’m the new guy.”
He’ll have more responsibility now, but having been in the Herd hoops office for two years, he figures it’s an advantage because “I know how it goes, how things work, what the other coaches want.”
He also may have one advantage. At 26, he’s only a few years older than the Thundering Herd players.
“I think that can help a little bit,” King said. “I think there’s enough separation that they respect me, but maybe because of my closeness in age they might feel more comfortable telling me something they might not tell someone else, just like an older person would feel more comfortable confiding in someone his age.”
Besides, King is plenty experienced at dealing with identity confusion. He made it through the background check eventually. And last season, in the Herd’s media guide, his name was erroneously listed once as “John King.”
That was just a typographical error.