Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Updated: April 15, 2:44 PM ET
Knight primed for the point at UK
By Paul Biancardi
Brandon Knight (Coral Springs, Fla./Pine Crest) ended months of heated speculation about his final college choice when he pledged his commitment to coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats. Knight, who had cut his list to five, has been a major target of the Kentucky staff in their anticipation of losing All-American freshman point guards John Wall and Eric Bledsoe early to the NBA draft.
This is a major pickup for Kentucky. It marks the second consecutive year the Wildcats have come up big in the late signing period. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Knight is an impressive physical specimen who can dominate on both sides of the ball. Although many experts believe he is still an evolving point guard, he is one of the most dynamic and explosive scorers in the country. His skill set of attacking off the dribble to create offense for himself or his teammates is a perfect fit for the Wildcat's dribble-drive offense.
Calipari has had great success attracting elite point guards and letting them find their way within the system. The recent history of past and future NBA draft picks (Wall, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, Dajuan Wagner) from Calipari-coached teams are all positives in predicting Knight's future. Of course, the task of mastering the point guard position is daunting, but no one is better suited to develop an elite point guard than Calipari. As the next in line to assume the point guard mantle, Knight's ability to get it going from behind the 3-point arc is a weapon that should make him almost impossible to stop within the system.
As the two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year, Knight is the complete package. The Florida native has excelled in the classroom as well as on the court. At the prestigious and challenging Pine Crest School, Knight -- who carries a 4.0-plus GPA -- never received a grade below an A throughout his academic career. He is an elite student-athlete in every sense of the word and could have attended nearly any school in the country based on his academics regardless of basketball.
Knight, a two-time state champion at the high school level, will need to develop more of a point guard's mentality within Calipari's offense. He will be counted on to keep everyone involved while making split-second decisions on the floor. His character and intellect should make him a quick study at learning the nuances of being an extension of the head coach on the floor while running a collegiate program.
As evidenced by his willingness and ability to take and make the game-winner on the last possession at the McDonald's All-American Game, Knight showed the star quality all the great ones posses. This kid is fearless, and he should thrive under the spotlight and pressure that comes with playing at Kentucky. With Enes Kanter (Turkey/Stoneridge Prep) and Stacey Poole (Jacksonville, Fla./The Providence School) already in the fold for the 2010 recruiting class, and the potential for one or two more elite players signing up to come to Lexington, the Wildcats are poised to again position themselves for an outstanding class that can make a deep run in next year's NCAA tournament.
Paul Biancardi is a veteran of the coaching ranks with years of college experience. He has recruited on a national level with stops as an assistant coach at Boston University and Boston College, associate head coach at Ohio State and most recently as an assistant at Saint Louis University. Biancardi was head coach at Wright State University from 2003 to 2006. In 2003, he was named Horizon League Coach of the Year. He is a selection committee member for the prestigious McDonald's All-America Game and the Gatorade Player of the Year award.