SHORELINE — If there were still any doubts surrounding Chris Faidley’s offensive expertise, the King’s hotshot expunged them once and for all at last season’s Class 1A state championships.
Faidley averaged a tournament-best 27 points over four games, shooting 48 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range and 91 percent from the free throw line.
The 6-foot-1 point guard saved his best for last, tying a state record with eight 3-pointers as part of a 42-point performance in a blowout of Freeman that secured King’s the fourth place trophy.
Knights coach Marv Morris has since spoken with countless college coaches who are interested in obtaining Faidley’s services. There’s a backlog of NAIA schools and junior colleges that would sign him any time he’s ready.
But the bigger, Division II schools Faidley has his eye on, like Seattle Pacific and Western, seek more than a scintillating scorer. They want Faidley to exhibit the same passion on defense he shows when the ball is in his hands.
“Offensively, they all feel he can play. They’re concerned with his quickness on defense at the higher level,” Morris said. “If he can show that he can move his feet and really guard a quick, tough kid, he can probably go where ever he wants at any Division II school.”
Faidley is well aware of what coaches are saying.
“They’ve watched me play offense and they know I can shoot. It’s the defense,” Faidley said. “I can’t be a defensive liability. That’s what they say.”
In the past, Faidley prepared for the season by smoothing out any rough spots in his textbook shooting form and honing the rest of his offensive skills.
This year, footwork is his focus.
“That’s the only question there is about him, does he have the quickness,” Morris said. “If he has quick enough feet, he can play. And I don’t know yet if he does yet or not. We’re going to find out this year. That’s going to be his new point of emphasis for the year.”
Morris hounds the fourth-year letterman at practice, constantly reminding him to stay low and move his feet. If his burning quads are any indication, Faidley feels his dedication is beginning to pay off.
“I think I’ve improved,” he said. “I’ve been working hard on it. It’s just getting it in your mind to work on it.”
With the loss of four starters and two more seniors to graduation, the Knights will be counting on Faidley more than ever this season to clinch a sixth straight state berth.
King’s has finished in the top four at state five years in a row, compiling a 17-3 tournament record during that stretch to go with back-to-back 1A titles in 2001 and ‘02.
Though the Knights no longer possess the same experience or firepower they were known for during their two-year reign as state champions, Faidley senses potential in this year’s group.
“We’re still kind of searching for our personality as a team,” he said. “We lost a lot of great talent, but I think we’ve got just as much coming up.”
King’s doesn’t have an abundance of size, but will look for 6-5 senior center Josh Drenth and 6-1 junior forward Calvin Fugii to establish a post presence.
“They really complement each other a lot,” Faidley said. “They’re both great passers.”
Drenth played sparingly as a junior, but had a productive offseason, earning all-star honors at a summer camp he attended on his own in addition to team camp.
“He makes good moves, he just doesn’t finish as well as I’d like,” Morris said. “He’s come a long way since last year. I’m really hoping for a great season from him.”
Senior forward Taylor Clark and junior guard Joey Kennard round out the starting five and seniors Christian Ostrom and David Howell and juniors Clayton Holman and Brandon Springer should see time off the bench.
King’s finished in a three-way tie for third in the Chinook League last year with Bellevue Christian and Life Christian and won a mini-tiebreaker to claim a Tri-district berth.
Along with defending league and Tri-district champion Seattle Christian, that same set of teams should contend for the Chinook League’s two automatic district playoff berths.
Before their first substantial league test Dec. 16 at Bellevue Christian, the Knights are scheduled to face three non-conference opponents and Tacoma Baptist.
The most demanding stretch of the season won’t come until the new year, which is fine with Faidley.
“With four new starters, it’s going to take some work,” he said. “It’s going to take some time to get it together. Once that happens, we’ve got all the tools to be a great team.”