Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blue Knight

So the wife and I are staying in Aventura, Fla. (about 15 minutes out of Fort Lauderdale) for the next couple of days to visit my in-laws. (My wife is Jewish. Believe it or not, she has relatives in the Miami area).

Anyway, decided to shoot up I-95 to cover Brandon Knight's press conference at the Pine Crest School. Nice campus. Crowd of about 850 people packed inside the auditorium for Knight's announcement.

About 45 minutes before his announcement, Knight was sitting on a bench in the middle of campus, talking on a cell phone, sporting a backpack and otherwise looking like any other student at the school – not one who could be signing a multi-million dollar contract a little more than a year from now.

Here's Knight shortly after announcing he's going to Kentucky. At bottom left is David Beckerman, Knight's coach at Pine Crest School and a New Haven native who still lives in Connecticut half the year. (Believe me, he tried).

Strange scene: At 4 p.m., everything fell silent – and stayed that way for about five minutes. Finally, questions from Bristol came into Knight's earpiece, and he'd answer them for the crowd to hear.

Then came the moment we were all waiting for: "The place where I plan to play my college basketball is (Knight reached down to pull out blue cap with UK on it) … at the University of Kentucky."

That was followed by a loud ovation from the crowd, including what seemed at least a couple of dozen blue-decked Kentucky boosters/fans.

Afterwards, I caught up with Knight.

"I made the decision this week," he said. "That's when I finally knew where I was going to go. The other schools were close. A lot of them had been recruiting them all through high school, so I had close bonds to a lot of the coaches. I don't talk much on the phone, but just seeing them at the events, I developed relationships with the other coaches."

Was there a second-place finisher?

"It was pretty close between all of them. I liked Kansas a lot, and I also liked UConn and Florida a whole lot. Those schools, with the exception of Kansas, have pretty much been on me since I started high school."

So why not UConn? Were Jim Calhoun's health issues an issue?

"No, not at all. I know he missed some games this year, but Coach Calhoun assured me he'd be there. Everyone has health problems some time. It's a great program, great history, a lot of NBA players. But my heart was with Kentucky."

Did he simply feel he'd have a better chance of making a run to the Final Four with whoever is at Kentucky next year, as opposed to UConn

"Not really, not so much. UConn has a lot of great players also. I just felt I'd probably fit in more at Kentucky."

How about the fact that five UK players from this year have already declared for the NBA draft. Was that a worry?

"I'm 100-percent confident in Coach Cal and his ability to recruit players and get players, and his ability to take teams from not being so great and inexperienced to winning games. That's what he did with this year's team. I felt whoever I'm fortunate enough to play with this year, he'll have the ability to do the same thing."

So there you have it: Brandon Knight is a Wildcat.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Realistically do you think we have a good shot at any of our remaining targets? (lamb, joseph, selby, leslie)

April 14, 2010 at 5:00 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ucan't is OVER!!! coach calhoun is so OVER!! forget it. done. has he even signed a contract?? will he even be here?? is the administration having second thoughts? jim.........thanx.........but please leave. and jim....what really happpened during those 7 games you missed?? a taxpayer i really would like to know!

April 14, 2010 at 5:15 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worst fan base in the country. Entitled schmucks.

April 14, 2010 at 7:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if im brandon knight, the way Uconn just quit on calhoun last year may have been a factor in my decision

April 14, 2010 at 10:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget about multi-million $ contract years from now...I would not be surprised that World Wide Wes has a verbal commitment for a big $ Nike contract guaranteed now that the Brandon has made the "right" choice

April 15, 2010 at 1:24 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ucan't is OVER!!!


Wow, great point.

UConn, UNC, Michigan St., Florida, UCLA, Duke, Syracuse, Kansas, Gonzaga, Villanova, Butler - these and a dozen other programs have out-performed Kentucky since I barely had pubes and now I'm almost thirty.

April 15, 2010 at 1:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Kentucky for signing a high-ranking prospect that most certainly will not live up his predecessor John Wall, and will most definitely leave for the NBA after one year.
Lets be honest, Rose, Evans, Wall, and likely Knight would have been exactly what they were (or, in Knight's case, will be) with any coach in America.
More importantly, because all of these players plan on leaving after one year it is important that they prove their dominance, so why on earth would any sign with Uconn and Calhoun. Calhoun will bench anyone for shitty play and berate his own players to media, and no kid who has spent their entire life dominating high school and AAU ball is going to take that. Look at Jeremy Tyler, who left high school and went to Europe and came running back to America with his tail between his legs because everything wasn't handed to him.
Plus, the lottery is their goal, why play in the Big East where even the most dominant player is exposed by someone at some point. It just makes more sense to go the SEC or Big 12 where there are only 3-4 actually good teams. Hassan Whiteside is projected to the lottery after one year at Marshall, I'm pretty sure if he played in the Big East his numbers would drop.

April 15, 2010 at 10:48 AM 

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