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Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Knight goes back-to-back

ESPN.com news services

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest), who is No. 3 in the ESPNU 100, was selected as the 2009-2010 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year. It's the second year in a row Knight won the award. The award was presented to Knight by Alonzo Mourning, who surprised the point guard during his second period class at Pine Crest.

"When I received this award in 1988, it was a really significant moment for me, so it felt great to surprise Brandon with the news and invite him into one of the most prestigious legacy programs in high school sports," said Mourning, the former Miami Heat center who won an Olympic gold medal and was a seven-time NBA All-Star. "Gatorade has been on the sidelines fueling athletic performance for years, so to be recognized by a brand that understands the game and truly helps athletes perform is a huge honor for these kids."

Knight becomes the first-ever student athlete from the state of Florida to repeat as Gatorade National Player of the Year in any sport. He joins LeBron James (2002-03 and 2001-02) and Greg Oden (2005-06 and 2004-05) as the only student-athletes to win Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year honors in consecutive seasons.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes Knight as the nation's best high school boys basketball player. A national advisory panel comprised of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country helped select Knight from more than 545,000 high school boys basketball players nationwide. Knight is now once again a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award, to be presented at a special afternoon ceremony prior to The ESPY Awards in July.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior guard led the Panthers (25-5) to the Class 3A state title game this past season, averaging 31.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting at 82.4 percent (220 for 267) from the free throw line. Knight is a 2010 McDonald's All-American and 2010 Jordan Brand Classic All-American. He is also a member of the 2010 USA Basketball Junior Select National Team and was a 2010 Naismith Award finalist. The owner of eight Pine Crest School records, Knight finished his prep career ranked second on the state's all-time scoring list with 3,515 points and is the first-ever four-time Class 3A-2A-1A Player of the Year as named by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. He led Pine Crest to four state title games, helping to capture back-to-back crowns in 2008 and 2009.

Knight has maintained a 4.30 weighted GPA in the classroom. An active member of his church community, he has volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach and peer tutor.

"Brandon is an exceptional young man -- bright, articulate and one of the few teens who could attend any university in the country whether he played basketball or not," said Paul Biancardi, the national director of ESPN Recruiting for basketball. "On the court, he's an outstanding scoring point guard who thrives in the transition game. In the half-court setting, Knight is as dangerous as they come with the ball in his hands. He has a quick first step to the basket and deceptive speed. He's excellent at finishing with contact or seeing the assist. Knight has really improved his 3-point shooting over the course of his career, but what's truly impressive about him is his unselfishness on the basketball court in spite of his ability to score. He's a team leader in every sense of the word and an extremely focused player. One of the most important qualities for a point guard is a strong mental makeup and he has very few mental lapses during the game, which separates him from his peers."

Knight remains undecided upon a college destination, but is expected to announce his choice in April. He is down to Kentucky, Kansas, Connecticut, Florida and Syracuse.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by ESPN RISE and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.