Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Updated: April 15, 10:23 AM ET
Heralded recruit Knight bound for UK
By Christopher Lawlor
Urgent alert to the Big Blue Nation: Breathe easier, Brandon Knight is aboard.
On Wednesday, the first day of college basketball's spring signing period, Kentucky won an intense recruiting sweepstakes for Knight, the nation's No. 4-rated senior. Knight made his announcement on ESPNU.
"I just chose Kentucky because I felt it was a place that had great players, a great environment and a place where I can elevate my game," Knight said on ESPNU.
Timing was everything for Knight. With the departure of five players who will enter the 2010 NBA draft, including guard John Wall -- the nation's freshman of the year and a first-team All-American -- the Wildcats were in dire need of an impact, do-everything point guard.
"Obviously this fills a huge void for [coach] John Calipari and Kentucky," said Paul Biancardi, ESPN's national basketball recruiting director. "Brandon can play the point and off the ball; he's equally adept at both. Defensively he possesses quickness and strength. In the half court, he can run the show."
Before opting for the Wildcats, Knight -- who played at Pine Crest School in Boca Raton, Fla. -- considered Syracuse, Connecticut and Kansas.
Knight, a McDonald's All-American, joins a talented Kentucky class, including ESPNU 100 prospects Enes Kanter, a 6-9 center out of Stoneridge Prep (Calif.) via Turkey, and forward Stacey Poole of Providence School (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Calipari said Kanter has the body and potential to be "special."
Knight cited the success young point guards have enjoyed in Calipari's "dribble-drive" offense -- namely Wall and current NBA stars Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans -- as a major factor in his decision.
"The things that's done with previous players ... I think that's what entices a lot of players with that situation," Knight said.
As a senior, Knight contributed 31.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4 assists for Pine Crest (25-5), which lost in the Florida 3A final after winning the previous two state crowns. He finished his career as Broward County's all-time leading scorer with 3,515 points, which is second all-time in Florida. That production earned him Gatorade National Player of the Year honors for the second consecutive season.
Calipari could not comment on Knight's commitment because the school had not yet received Knight's letter of intent. However, he told ESPNU he's not worried about Kentucky's ability to sustain its success.
"When you get this kid and a few other kids signed with the kids we have coming back, I think we're going to be fine," he said.
With Knight off the board, the nation's top uncommitted prospect is Josh Selby. Selby, a point guard who is rated No. 5 on the ESPNU 100, will announce his decision during Saturday's Jordan Brand Classic (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
The Wildcats are expected to receive several more commitments during the spring signing period, which runs until May 19, but got a head start on their 2011 class with Wednesday's commitment from forward Michael Gilchrist, who ESPN Recruiting ranks at the nation's top junior. The 6-foot-7 forward has been one of the country's most talked-about prospects since his freshman season at St. Patrick High School in Elizabeth, N.J. Gilchrist picked the Wildcats over a list of suitors that included Villanova, Texas and Georgia Tech.
Although the biggest developments of the day dealt with college basketball's winningest program, there was big news for a few mid-major programs on Wednesday. Top-50 prospects Ray McCallum, of Detroit's Country Day High School, and Trey Zeigler, of Mount Pleasant (Mich.) High, elected to play their college ball for some coaches they are very familiar with: their fathers.
McCallum, one of the nation's top point guards, will suit up for his father, Ray McCallum Sr., at Detroit. Zeigler, a gifted shooting guard, will play for his father, Ernie Zeigler, at Central Michigan.
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA Today. The Associated Press contributed to this report.