Sixth and final in a summer series looking at top players for the 2018 high school football season. The first was on Malvern Prep's Keith Maguire. The second, Pleasantville's Mohamed Toure. The third, Imhotep's Tykee Smith. The fourth, Winslow Township's Donovan Bunch. The fifth, Coatesville's Aaron Young.
Stanley King grew up thinking basketball first. Football was an afterthought. But a conversation with Woodrow Wilson football coach Preston Brown changed his thinking. Brown also is the school's basketball coach, but he saw great football potential in King.
And who was going to doubt Brown? He is a former football star at Woodrow Wilson who earned a scholarship to Tulane. He knows what it takes to play at the next level, and he saw it in King at a young age.
King remains an accomplished basketball player, averaging 17 points and 16 rebounds as a junior. But the 6-foot-5, 190-pound receiver and cornerback sees his athletic future in football. At the beginning of the summer, he had 17 scholarship offers, and on Wednesday he made an oral commitment to Louisville.
Last season, King was an Inquirer second-team all-South Jersey receiver with 955 yards and 11 touchdown receptions.
Here is how his high school career got started:
Stanley King: "My freshman year, I wasn't going to play football. I was going to play AAU basketball. But Coach Brown told me to come out, and I did. That freshman year, I got my first offer," from North Carolina State.
Woodrow Wilson coach Preston Brown: "I told Stanley that most athletes playing pro football typically didn't play just one sport. As an athlete you want to dominate in everything, including academics. I said if you decide to play football I will turn you into an all-American. He and his brother kind of bought into it."
King: "When I got that first [college] offer, I said, 'This is crazy.' I didn't know it would come so fast. At that point I knew I couldn't slow down. I had to work hard to get more offers."
King's brother is standout defensive end Travon King, a 2018 graduate of Woodrow Wilson and an Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey selection who is headed to Temple on a football scholarship. The Kings come from a large family — six boys and three girls. Stanley, the youngest, said he is tight with all his siblings. Because of their proximity in age, Stanley and Travon have an especially tight bond. They have also pushed each other in a good way.
Travon King: "We have pushed each other in everything. It's always been a friendly competition to see who is better. We even compete to see who can run to the store faster. My mom says, 'Why are you guys always in competition?' It just comes natural."
>>READ MORE: King brothers lead Woodrow Wilson football
Brown: "Those two guys are extremely competitive and two of the best athletes I have had the opportunity to coach. They both have lots of versatility. I will tell you an interesting story. When Travon was a sophomore and Stanley was a freshman, they got in a fight at home and broke some stuff, and their mom called and said they wouldn't be practicing or playing that week. We had a rainy game against Moorestown. Not only didn't they play in the game, but she made them scrape all the cleats and get the mud off. I don't think there were too many fights after that."
Stanley King: [laughing] "My mom told the coach whatever you can make them do, then do it. So we ended up cleaning the cleats. We learned our lesson and never missed another game."
Travon King: "We ended up breaking something. I think it was a vase, and after that, we stopped doing that in the house and went outdoors. We didn't want to miss any more games."
Stanley King: "Me and [Travon] are really competitive. We go at it. We play different positions. He plays defensive end. I play corner. We always go at it no matter what, whether we are in the weight room or on the field. What my brother really has helped me out with has been recruiting. He said, 'Don't pick a school based on coaches because they can leave anytime they want.' Seeing what he went through has helped me a lot."
Woodrow Wilson has a rich football history. But before Brown's arrival as head coach, the Tigers were in a funk. They went 6-24 in the three years before Brown took over. In his three seasons, the Tigers are 20-12 with two playoff appearances. Last year, the Tigers went 8-4 and advanced to the South Jersey Group 3 final before losing a 29-28 thriller to Delsea. That's the same Delsea team that a little more than a month before had thumped the Tigers, 43-12. The championship game had wild swings, with Delsea taking a 15-0 lead only to see Wilson go ahead, 28-22, late in the third quarter before Delsea came back.
Stanley King: "It was crazy. We could have had that game, and I know that game was supposed to be ours. We are going to get back at it and hope to play them this year. We had the momentum, and things were going our way. All our linemen were working great together. We were so into it."
The sectional championship games were played at Rowan, and this game had a huge crowd as part of a tripleheader.
Stanley King: "Other people's fans were coming for the next game. It was the biggest crowd I played in front of my whole life. It was a great atmosphere. My goal is to make it back to the state championship, to work hard and influence the players coming behind me. We need to keep it going. We need to keep winning."
Stanley King is a matchup nightmare for any defensive back, which is why he often sees double-teaming.
Naiem Simmons, Wilson receiver-cornerback: "His height and stride make it really difficult to defend him. He has strong arms and gets off press defense really hard."
David McCarthy, New Jersey recruiting expert and publisher of the McCarthy Report: "He is a tall, angular target who will be a great receiver for [quarterback] Nick Kargman in the fall. They should be the best pitch-catch combo in South Jersey. The thing I like about him is, Stanley really creates matchup headaches for secondaries. He is tough to stop in the red zone, and with that 6-5 height, he has deceptive speed and will get past corners before they realize it. He is a fluid, graceful kid."