COLUMBIA —It’s no secret that Kim English is one of the hardest workers on the Missouri men’s basketball team.
WHO: Coppin State (2-11) at Missouri (12-2)
WHEN: 8 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
TV: KOMU/Channel 8
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM
He frequently stayed overnight at Mizzou Arena's practice gym during the summer, and he has been called a gym rat by Missouri coach Mike Anderson.
That work ethic is paying dividends so far, helping English, a Baltimore native, make substantial progress early in Missouri’s season.
“Kimmie comes from an area where (there are) a lot of great players, a lot of great talent,” Anderson said. “So he has a competitive drive in him to be the best he can be. I’m hoping that’s in each and every guy I have. But for him, it’s something that he knows every day.”
Anderson knew he had recruited a scorer, but it took some time for the freshman to start making an impact.
In his first six games, English scored five points a game on 32 percent shooting. Then in back-to-back games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and California, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard showed off his abilities. He scored 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including a season-high 16 points in Missouri’s 93-66 rout of the Golden Bears.
Despite two disappointing performances against Stetson and Centenary, when he only scored a combined two points, English has been more of a consistent scoring threat lately for the 12-2 Tigers. In his past eight games, he has scored eight points per game and shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.
“I call him one of the freshman leaders,” DeMarre Carroll said. “There’s five freshman, and I think that he’s kind of showing them the way because he’s been to prep school. He kind of knows where to go.”
Anderson has taken notice. English is getting about three more minutes per game since his big night against Pine-Bluff, including a season-high 20 minutes in the loss to Illinois. In that game, the young shooter admits he wanted to help his team a little too much.
“I kind of got away from what I should have been doing,” English said. “We should have came more together as a team, but I reverted back to just scoring on my own and that wasn’t that effective.”
It’s that competitiveness that drives English to talk about how the Tigers should be 13-0, and how he is going to learn from his mistakes. He often sounds like a tape recording of Anderson, emphasizing defense and ignoring his individual numbers.
"I think I’m becoming more of a total player, focusing on defense," English said. "I’m trying to be a hard player to scout, a defender, not just a shooter. I can pass, distribute, just do whatever the team needs me to do that night."
The freshman is still working on his consistency on defense, and Anderson said he would like to see English do a better job with his defensive rebounding. Offensively, he is learning to pass up on some shots to adjust to Missouri’s game plan of getting the ball inside to its two leading scorers, Carroll and Leo Lyons.
“He realized that when you come from high school to play at a big time D1 college, you just ain’t going to be the same player that you were in high school,” Carroll said. “I think he’s really, really matured in that aspect, and I think that he’s finally picking and choosing great shots.”
English said he will keeping working, day-by-day, to make himself a more effective player. Even when he got his first taste of the academic rigors of college life last semester, he was willing to sacrifice sleep for basketball.
“It just made me tired because I’m big on my own time in the gym,” English said. “We had 6 a.m. workouts and conditioning and class, study hall and practice. With all that, I still had to find time to get my own time, so I found myself coming here really early.”