Cal Poly men’s basketball coach Joe Callero wasn’t expecting much from Peninsula High senior Garrett Kingman when he came to campus on an unofficial visit in April.
“He told me he was thinking, ‘You’re from a white, sheltered Gig Harbor community,’” Kingman said. “He was expecting me to be soft.”
Callero was wrong.
Kingman, who was the only recruit on an unofficial visit — six others were on officials — turned out to be one of the best players on the court during a scrimmage.
“The coaching staff was shocked that I was better than all six of the other recruits they had,” Kingman said. “(Callero) told me, ‘You’re a cold-blooded assassin, you have the toughness for Division I.’”
The next day, Cal Poly offered Kingman. Kingman took an official visit and committed on April 30. Kingman, who is only 16 years old, will take a gap year and attend a prep school before joining the Mustangs in 2017.
“I really liked how straight forward (Callero) was,” Kingman said. “I just loved the coaches, the players, and the school itself — and the area is unbelievable.”
In his senior season, Kingman averaged 15 points per game, 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists while shooting 45 percent from the floor. He was named to the Class 3A South Puget Sound League first team.
Cal Poly is a Division-I program which plays in the Big West Conference. The Mustangs posted a 10-20 overall record last season, while going 4-12 in the Big West.
“It was always my goal as a kid to play Division-I basketball,” Kingman said. “Just playing with the guys and realizing I can have a big role my freshman year — I didn’t realize I could have that big of an impact. I want to take them to the Sweet 16.”
The Cal Poly coaching staff liked Kingman’s versatility. At 6-foot-5, Kingman can play a variety of positions.
“I’m a big guard and I can defend the (point guard) through the (power forward),” he said.
The Mustangs will likely want Kingman to play small forward, the senior said.
“They just liked my efficiency,” Kingman said. “I’m not the quickest guy on the court, but I can use my length.”
Jake Jackson, who was Kingman’s coach at Peninsula (he left during the offseason to take the Sumner head coaching job), tweeted his support on April 30.
“WE ARE EXTRAORDINARILY PROUD OF YOU (Garrett). You always did what we emphasized, honored the process and were ALL IN. High character.”
Part of the late push for Kingman’s recruitment came as a result of only being 16 years old in his senior season. Kingman entered high school as a 13-year-old. Coming into his senior season, Kingman put on 25 pounds of muscle and began to grow into his body.
During his year at prep school, Kingman plans to continue improving all aspects of his game.
“Just getting physically bigger and stronger, working on my quickness and growing into my body,” Kingman said.