As far as coaching fits go, Mumford is snug as a glove for Aubrie King.
Just six years after playing a vital role in the Mustangs’ 2014 Class A Division I state basketball championship, the four-time TABC all-state selection and two-time player of the year is back as the head coach.
King spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Flatonia under Chris Sodek, his high school coach. With so little experience, the 25-year-old said he wasn’t expecting to get the job but still had to pursue it.
“Even though I don’t have head coaching experience, they know my background in basketball,” King said. “They know where I’m coming from. They didn’t need to see that to know I was capable of doing the job.”
King’s playing resumé certainly isn’t lacking. He led the Mustangs to three straight state title games as they lost just three times over his final three seasons. He led the nation his senior season with 169 made 3-pointers and averaged 21 points, nine rebounds, 7.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
He also had a standout college career, first at St. Edward’s then at Mary Hardin-Baylor, where in two seasons he broke the school career record for made 3-pointers, sinking 144. King also holds the top two marks in UMHB history for single-season free-throw percentage.
But even in his playing days King said he knew that he wanted to be a coach, so much so that he got into the coaching mindset early on.
“I kind of decided my first year of college I wanted to do this when I finished playing,” King said. “I was approaching practice and games from a perspective of somebody who was going to do this in the future. So it wasn’t, ‘Ugh, we’ve got to run,’ or ‘I don’t want to do this drill.’ It’s, ‘Why are we doing this today? How can I use this when I become a coach?’”
That helped in his first coaching stop and reunion with Sodek at Flatonia. In two years, the Bulldogs went 51-20 and won the District 29-2A title last season.
King said linking up with Sodek was the perfect introduction to coaching. His previous experience playing for Sodek prepared him for working with him, and Sodek’s familiarity with his former player allowed King to shoulder plenty of responsibility, along with fellow assistant and former Mumford head coach Todd Law.
“We had three old Mumford people at Flatonia, so it was kinda strange,” King said. “Sodek did a good job of spreading responsibilities around. There wasn’t a hierarchy necessarily. [The players] looked to me, because I was so fresh off playing, being able to figure out why a player was feeling a certain way about practice and what we could do to change the way he’s seeing stuff. Perception is reality, and sometimes 17-year-olds don’t perceive things like adults do. I was kind of a bridge.”
King believes his time at Flatonia prepared him to be a head coach. Of course, it helps that his first crack at the role comes at a familiar place.
King will bring a tendency for fast-paced play with him, much like how the Mustangs played during their historic run from 2011-14. Still, his time in college and even at Flatonia taught him that sometimes it helps to slow it down a little bit.
“Playing fast is Sodek’s deal, and it’s what I like to do,” King said. “In college where I played against some athletic teams, I had to get used to that slow down, move guys around and look for mismatches style. So I hope to bring a mixture of that.”
King and his wife, Angel, say they are excited to be back and ready to make a difference where they grew up. Angel King will teach sixth and seventh grade reading at the middle school, which is on the same campus as the high school.
“We loved Flatonia, and it was a lot like Mumford,” Angel King said. “Everybody is near their family, so for us it was sometimes hard to be so far from ours. So we’re excited to get to be around our family and be there for everything. We’re excited to be back at Mumford.”
It’s quite a homecoming for the Kings. Aubrie not only returns to the school he helped bring a state title, but he’s the latest King to coach in the Brazos Valley.
Aubrie’s father, Alvie King, is a former basketball coach at Milano and was an assistant at Mumford when Aubrie played there. His mother, Wendy King, is a longtime coach and current Milano athletic director, and brothers Ben and Kyle attended school in the area with Kyle excelling in football, basketball and baseball for the Eagles.
Even with his family’s local history at Mumford, Aubrie said there’s no pressure to live up to any legacies.
“The idea I’m going to work at a place with recent history and has people in place who have expectations of getting back to that, that’s where you want to work,” Aubrie King said. “I know it’s going to be kind of strange for myself and people who saw me play, but they may have to see me in a new light. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.”