One playmaking star leaves, another arrives in a fresh crop of top recruits
This is an article from the Nov. 22, 2010 issue
KENTUCKY'S NEW point guard doesn't have a signature dance move, but Brandon Knight still has artistic flair. It's evident in his crisp crossover and in the thoughtfulness of the poetry he wrote at the Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.
"He's a very deep thinker," says Tonya Knight, who displays a book that contains one of her son's poems alongside his trophies—including a pair of national player of the year awards—in their Coral Gables, Fla., home. "Everyone says he has big shoes to fill, but they don't look at Brandon on his own merits."
The latest highly touted playmaker signed by coach John Calipari, Knight follows John Wall, who went No. 1 in last summer's NBA draft. Though only four players remain from the 2009--10 roster, there's a feeling that Calipari can still work some magic. Even without forward Enes Kanter, who was ruled permanently ineligible to play at UK for receiving more than $33,000 above his necessary expenses from his pro team in Turkey, forward Terrence Jones and guard Doron Lamb join Knight as consensus top 30 recruits.
Just don't mention the high expectations to Calipari. "Last year I said that it's a new team—don't expect much," he says. "This year I really mean it."
Knight is unfazed by the inevitable comparisons with Wall, whose interpretation of the Shizz took Big Blue Nation by storm last season. "I take it as an honor and use it as motivation," says Knight, a deft shooter who won two state titles at Pine Crest. "I just want to be part of a winning team and be a leader."
Already he has followers. A straight-A student since the third grade whose high school teachers raved about his command of Shakespeare, Knight has college teammates seeking him out for help with their homework, looking for assists the same way they do on the hardwood.
Even without his own special dance, Knight has all the right moves.
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE
Coach John Calipari (2nd season)
2009--10 record 35--3
SEC 14--2 (1st, East)
NCAA tournament Elite Eight
|PG||Brandon Knight*||6'3"||Fr.||32.5 ppg||8.6 rpg|
|SG||Doron Lamb*||6'4"||Fr.||23.0 ppg||4.0 apg|
|G||DeAndre Liggins||6'6"||Jr.||3.8 ppg||2.3 rpg|
|G||Darius Miller||6'7"||Jr.||6.5 ppg||2.4 rpg|
|PF||Terrence Jones*||6'8"||Fr.||30.0 ppg||14.0 rpg|
|F||Eloy Vargas||6'11"||Jr.||21.1 ppg||14.1 rpg|
*High school stats
Nov. 12 East Tennessee State
Nov. 19 at Portland
Nov. 22 Oklahoma*
Nov. 23 Virginia or Wash.*
Nov. 30 Boston University
Dec. 4 at North Carolina
Dec. 8 Notre Dame
Dec. 11 Indiana
Dec. 18 Mississippi Valley St.
Dec. 22 Winthrop
Dec. 28 Coppin State
Dec. 31 at Louisville
Jan. 3 Penn
Jan. 8 at Georgia
Jan. 11 Auburn
Jan. 15 LSU
Jan. 18 at Alabama
Jan. 22 at South Carolina
Jan. 29 Georgia
Feb. 1 at Mississippi
Feb. 5 at Florida
Feb. 8 Tennessee
Feb. 12 at Vanderbilt
Feb. 15 Mississippi State
Feb. 19 South Carolina
Feb. 23 at Arkansas
Feb. 26 Florida
March 1 Vanderbilt
March 6 at Tennessee
*EA Sports Maui Invitational (championship game on Nov. 24)
Shortly after returning from a challenging slate of games in Maui, Kentucky will face another tough test, this time in Chapel Hill. The Wildcats were eighth in the nation in defensive rebounding last season; how they fare against what should be a top five offensive rebounding team will be a strong indicator of how their season will go.
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