Peninsula High senior guard Garrett Kingman put on 25 pounds of muscle in the offseason, increased his vertical leap and overall athleticism.
Part of that is due to the offseason strength and conditioning program put into place by Seahawks coach Jake Jackson. But another part is just Kingman filling out his 6-foot-5 frame and growing up. While he’s one of Peninsula’s most experienced players, he’s only 16 years old.
As young kids, Garrett and his older brother, Austin, also a senior on the Peninsula basketball team, were inseparable.
“They were just so close, such good buddies,” said Kent Kingman, their father. “I wanted them to go through school together. I wouldn’t change it.”
Kingman, who scored 20 points in Peninsula’s win over Sumner last Friday, will graduate as a 16-year-old. While he was a solid contributor for Peninsula last season, he looks like he’s on a different level now.
“He’s more confident and less hesitant,” Jackson said. “Garrett is a guy that has tons of skill, tons of talent. But I think what separates Garrett from everyone else is his IQ. The way he can read the defense in the half court offensively and attack and exploit their defense is how he gets his buckets. Also offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding — he just keeps the ball alive. He just fills the stat sheet. He does so much more than just score.”
Kingman has improved rapidly. While coming into high school as a 13-year-old was a challenge, it forced him to grow up quickly.
“All of his life, it’s been playing catchup,” Kent Kingman said. “We’ve always called him the ‘little man.’ He’s been so much smaller than everyone else. I think that hard work that he’s had to do is going to pay off in the long run. He’s always had to go head to head with (Oregon State commit) JaQuori (McLaughlin).”
Adding muscle and better explosiveness in the offseason was a key for Kingman.
Physically, I just transformed my body. I feel so much more comfortable. I can be more of the bully this year.
“Physically, I just transformed my body,” Kingman said. “I feel so much more comfortable. I can be more of the bully this year.”
Kingman carries a 3.9 grade point average and takes AP classes.
“You’re not going to find a smarter kid off and on the court,” Jackson said.
Kingman is leading the team in rebounding, averaging 8.3 boards per game through the team’s first three games.
“He just has a knack for the ball; he knows where it’s going,” Kent Kingman said.
8.3 Rebounds per game average for Garrett Kingman, which leads the team
What’s next is a question mark for Garrett Kingman. He’s being recruited consistently by Division II programs such as Seattle Pacific. But as he continues to grow and develop his skillset, there’s still an outside shot he could land on a Division I team. Playing basketball for a year at a prep school to gain more exposure is an option the Kingmans are mulling over.
“If he grows to 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7 — and we think he will — he becomes a much more attractive player, from a Division I perspective,” Kent said.
For now, Kingman is focused on helping the Seahawks win the Class 3A South Puget Sound League and hopefully make a run in the 3A state tournament.
“The confidence with my team — I feel like we’re really clicking and we’ve got our chemistry going,” Kingman said. “I feel like it’s going to take us deep into the playoffs.”
The Seahawks are already 2-0 in league, posting wins over Bonney Lake and Sumner. McLaughlin got the Seahawks out to an early lead against Sumner on Friday night, and the visiting Spartans never threatened to re-take the lead as the Seahawks cruised to an 80-63 win.
McLaughlin led all scorers with 33 points, hitting from outside and attacking the rim aggressively. McLaughlin figured to be a tough matchup for the Spartans. But some other players on the floor were just as big of a factor.
Senior forward Austin Kingman added 15 points of his own. Peninsula gave Sumner matchup issues all over the floor with its overall team length.
“I think the biggest thing this year, that we’ve talked about, is JaQuori is going to get everyone involved,” Jackson said. “He’ll get the engine started for the other guys and then he’ll get his car started. When everyone is involved, they feel a part of it. It’s hard for our opponent to score against us when we have other guys attacking and not just JaQuori. If JaQuori is just doing his own thing, we have guys just standing. We don’t want that.”
McLaughlin took the game over at certain points when Sumner made runs, showing off a spin-move in the lane and a step-back three to keep the Spartans at bay in the second half, but primarily facilitated to his teammates.
“He’s a lot more focused on being a team player this year,” Kingman said. “I think that just helps our chemistry a lot. He steps up when he needs to and when he doesn’t need to and he needs to pass, he’s more willing to do that.”
Peninsula (3-0 overall, 2-0 SPSL 3A) also knocked off Foss on Saturday, 69-52. The Seahawks led by 26 with three minutes to go, before clearing the bench.
“(We) don’t (want to) get too high or too low,” McLaughlin said. “Just stay consistent through the whole thing.”