Taylor King was a difference-maker for Villanova in November and December. He seemed to get every loose ball. He competed for every rebound. And he made long shots at critical moments.

Through nine games, the Duke transfer was averaging 12.4 points and 6.8 rebounds. He had 20 points and a killer three in a wild win over Saint Joseph's at the Palestra.

Then, starting in late January, King's game went silent. He shot just 16-for-63 over the final 11 regular-season games he played. He looked tentative, a little lost. He did not play in the regular-season finale against West Virginia for reasons that coach Jay Wright never detailed.

He did manage 10 points in the brush with a major NCAA upset against Robert Morris, but that was a bit of a mirage. Something clearly was amiss that was affecting his game.

Yesterday, it was announced by the school that King, who has 2 years of eligibility remaining, "has voluntarily withdrawn from the men's basketball team. He plans to remain at Villanova to focus his efforts on completing his degree requirements."

So King, who scored 3,214 points at Santa Ana Mater Dei (Calif.) High, fourth most in the history of the state, apparently will stay in school. But he won't be playing basketball. *