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Former Badgers men’s basketball player Kobe King decides not to play for Nebraska

Former Badgers men’s basketball player Kobe King decides not to play for Nebraska

Former Badgers men’s basketball player Kobe King decides not to play for Nebraska


Kobe King, who abruptly left the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program during the 2019-20 season, has decided he won’t play at Nebraska.

Cornhuskers coach Fred Hoiberg said in a statement Friday morning that King will not be attending Nebraska “for personal reasons. We respect his decision and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

King announced in February he was transferring to Nebraska. That news came less than a month after King left the Badgers 20 games into the season, a stunning move that left UW without one of its biggest offensive threats at the midway point of Big Ten Conference

A message left for King wasn’t immediately returned.

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Todd Fergot, who coached King at La Crosse Central, declined to get into specifics on his former player’s decision to leave the Cornhuskers before even playing a game for them.

“I think he just has a lot of things he’s working through right now,” Fergot said.

King was named Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball after a stellar senior season at Central in 2016-17. He arrived at UW as part of a talented recruiting class that also included Brad Davison and Nate Reuvers.

After most of his freshman season was wiped out by a knee injury, King spent the following campaign in a reserve role and appeared poised for a breakout in his first full season as a starter in 2019-20.

After a blowout loss at Purdue on Jan. 24, King was second on the team in scoring at 10.0 points per game and leading the Badgers with a 12.6 average in conference play. But the next day, he informed the coaching staff in a text message that he was finished playing for the Badgers.

King didn’t travel to Iowa for a game on Jan. 27 and two days later officially announced he was leaving the program. Later that week, he told the State Journal his frustration had been brewing since early in his UW career and made it clear his relationship with coach Greg Gard was fractured.

The decision to leave the program when he did made King an easy target for criticism on social media, with fans and even a national media member branding him as a quitter.

“I thought it was best for not only myself — but for (the team) — for me to step away from the program just because I knew my heart wouldn’t be into it again,” King told the State Journal at the time. “I hear people say I’m a quitter. I talked to five, six (teammates) before I even told the coaches I was thinking of doing this. These were my closest guys, and if one of them would have told me it felt like I was quitting (on them) by doing it right now, I never would have said anything.”

King also told the State Journal in late January he wasn’t the only UW player who was frustrated with Gard.

But if others were dissatisfied, it didn’t show on the court. The Badgers went 9-2 following King’s departure, winning their final eight games of the regular season to earn a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.

Gard was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and hasn’t lost any players to transfer during the offseason.

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He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure two years ago. Doctors discovered a cancerous mass near Franklin’s kidney last summer, and he spent the final seven months of his life in a rehabilitation facility.

Will Ryan was officially hired Sunday by the Phoenix after spending last season at Division II Wheeling University in West Virginia.

A UW spokesman said Thursday that all 14 of the coaches whose contracts are typically considered by the Athletic Board in spring meetings were extended by a year.

Former Madison East athlete landed the Badgers’ job in 1991 on Bill Yoder’s staff.

The senior-laden Badgers are ranked in the Top 10 by two media outlets after finishing 21-10 and with a share of the Big Ten Conference regular-season title last season.

He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure two years ago. Doctors discovered a cancerous mass near Franklin’s kidney last summer, and he spent the final seven months of his life in a rehabilitation facility.

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