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Player of the Decade: Santa Ynez' Hailey King overcame major injury to lead Pirates
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Player of the Decade

Player of the Decade: Santa Ynez' Hailey King overcame major injury to lead Pirates

From the What you need to know for Thursday, September 24 series

Hailey King averaged 14.3 points, five rebounds and two steals a game during her junior basketball season at Santa Ynez. 

The problem is, King played in just three games that season. She suffered a torn ACL in December of her junior year and wouldn't play again that season. She scored 14 points against Dos Pueblos, 16 against Nipomo and 13 against Santa Barbara in the three games she played in that 2009-10 campaign. 

King rehabbed for a year and made it back to the Pirate lineup as a senior in 2010-11, scoring 427 points that year and leading Santa Ynez to the Los Padres League title, the Pirates' most recent league championship in girls hoops.

“I went to Joe Dugan in Solvang every day for rehab," King told the Times' Kenny Cress at the end of her senior season in 2011. “Then I started going to P3 in Santa Barbara after six months. After that I could start doing everything (on the basketball court), but I wasn’t nearly 100 percent.”

“I think the right ACL is better than the other one,” thanks to all the rehab work, King told Cress. “It’s stronger.”   

As a senior, King averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game after tearing her ACL the year prior. She played in 83 games during her four-year varsity career and scored 906 points. 

In the 57 games she played from her sophomore to senior seasons, King averaged 14.3 points per game. 

King poured in 22 points to lead the Pirates to a 48-45 win over Whitney High School in the CIF playoffs, leading the Pirates to the quarterfinals, their deepest playoff run this past decade. 

King is the 10th nominee for the Times' Player of the Decade contest. She joins former Righetti standouts Mariah Cooks, Danita Estorga and Molly Schlemer; Arroyo Grande's Heather Madrigal and Ashlyn Herlihy; St. Joseph's Tatiana Dunlap; Valley Christian's Simone Swain; Lompoc's Danielle Morgan and Cabrillo's Erin Jenkins. The Times is polling current and former coaches to develop its list of nominees for Player of the Decade. 

After King tore her right ACL in 2009 she said, “I have to keep (the left knee) taped up before a game and keep a cover on it, but it’s fine,” during her senior season with Santa Ynez. 

The Pirates finished 16-13 and 10-2 in the Los Padres League her senior year as the 5-foot-11 King helped her team win a pair of playoff games. King was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division 4A team that season.

King was intent on playing basketball after high school and walked on at Cal State Fullerton, a Division I program in the Big West Conference. She made the team and eventually earned a scholarship with the Titans. She played three seasons at Fullerton. She played in 28 games during her final season in 2014-15, averaging four points a game off the bench. She started 26 games as a sophomore in 2013-14, averaging 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. 

King got into coaching after her playing days were over. According to Hope International University in Fullerton, King began coaching with the school's NAIA program in 2017-18 as an assistant after spending time coaching at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. 

King graduated from Cal State Fullerton with her bachelor's in kinesiology, according to HIU, and was working to complete her master’s degree in kinesiology.

The rest of the Player of the Decade nominees will be announced in the coming weeks before a tournament-style voting contest will be held to determine the girls basketball Player of the Decade. Readers will be able to vote online at and Players from Northern Santa Barbara County and Southern San Luis Obispo County whose final seasons where in between 2009-10 and 2019-20 are eligible.  


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