When UConn defeated Kentucky 84-67 on Nov. 24 in the Maui Invitational, it was the fifth game of Knight’s collegiate career. He scored six points on 3-for-15 shooting, had five assists and five turnovers. The Huskies know they will be facing a totally different player in the Final Four.
“He has so much confidence now, understands his teammates, and understands what coach Calipari wants from him,” said UConn assistant coach Kevin Ollie, a former UConn point guard and 13-year NBA veteran. “We’re going to see a whole different Brandon. He’s more comfortable in understanding his role. He knows how to get people involved and score himself.
“He comes off those dribble handoffs from the baseline and he can change speeds. Their offense is very complex with a lot of movement. And he orchestrates it very well.”
Knight knew he didn’t have all the answers when he arrived. In the end, he didn’t have anything against UConn or the other schools that pursued him. But he did trust Calipari and the Kentucky coach’s record of producing pros.
“It was a tough decision,” Knight said of picking Kentucky. “I liked UConn but I just felt better off going to Kentucky. Any college decision for anybody is going to affect the rest of your life. Coach Calhoun informed me about the University of Connecticut. He just wanted the best for me.”
“It definitely weighed on my decision,” Knight said. “A lot of other guys that were pretty good in high school trusted Coach Cal to help them get to the next level and get better individually. That really weighed on my decision, but also the fact that other players around those people got a lot better.
“I watched them [last season] from beginning to end and all their players got better. Not just the point guard but 1 through 5, they got better. That’s what you see on our team also. That’s what I wanted to be a part of, a place where I could win and a place where I can get better individually.”
Playing in the Final Four might be validation of all those elements for Knight. He has either one or two more games left in this season. Then he will think about his future. Like everything else, it won’t be a simple decision.
“Right now, I’m just living in the moment,” Knight said. “I’m just focusing on basketball in college, my college career, and college academics.”
Not your typical one-and-done star, but certainly a young man with a great future.
CBT: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski made it official that he'll be coaching Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and he'll also be with Duke at least that long, too.
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