By Craig Moorhed
The Caledonia Argus
Caledonia high school junior Eli King had to make a couple of important choices recently. As one of the top prep prospects in the 2022 Minnesota graduating class, Eli had been contacted by numerous colleges about playing football or basketball at the NCAA Division 1 level.
“There were a lot for both sports, talking to me pretty early on...” the youngster told the Argus last week.
Finally, King decided to focus on basketball. “Ever since I was a younger kid I’ve always enjoyed it a little more,” he said. “That’s just what I saw myself doing every day. If you’re going to do something at a Division 1 level, you’ve got to be in it every single day, trying to be the best you can be every single day. So I saw myself doing that in basketball more (than football). Doing two sports would be very hard, and I just want to focus on one.”
That narrowed down the field of where to go. And after Eli considered which coach he would most like to play basketball for - his mind was made up.
“I would say the main reason was my relationship with coach Otzelberger,” King stated. T. J. Otzelberger is the newly-appointed head coach at Iowa State. “We have known him for a while now, and his vision for the program and for me I really like...”
In March, UNLV head coach Otzelberger announced that he was returning to Iowa State as head coach of that basketball program. Otzelberger previously served as an assistant coach for the Cyclones prior to taking a head coaching position at South Dakota State in 2016. While there, he recruited Eli’s brothers Owen, then Noah. Otzelberger then coached at UNLV for two seasons. The new coach’s contract with Iowa State will reportedly be for a five year term.
Parents Brad (who coaches basketball for Caledonia High School) and Susan are proud of the hard work all three of their sons have poured into their athletic and academic careers.
“It’s not happen-chance, it’s not fairy dust,” Brad said. “They’ve worked hard from a very young age hoping for an opportunity to play college sports. They’ve excelled at multiple sports leading up to that, and having to choose one.
“I would say that we’re very proud of their work ethic and they’ve done well in the classroom, too, which makes us proud... If you get to go to college you want to take advantage of that (classroom experience) too. You need to have a foundation that you’ve built in high school to take advantage of that.
“We’re tickled pink with the outcome, because you never know what that outcome is once you start working towards a goal. There’s days when things weren’t fun... but the rewards that they’ve had here with college have been a blessing for our family. I think if you start a foundation of working hard, it will go into the other areas of your life, hopefully every area of your life.”