This weekend, Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks play host to Brandon Knight. A 6-foot-3 guard from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Pine Crest, Knight is ranked as the second best player in the class of 2010 by Scout.com. Not only is Knight a big time talent, but it's also quite likely that he'll be the last prospect to visit Lawrence officially this fall.
A quiet kid who has done his best to shy away from the limelight, Knight is actually a bit of an unknown for most Kansas fans. It's easy to see his lofty ranking or click on a video on youtube.com and get a feel for why he's so highly regarded. But, exactly what he does that makes him so good is mostly unknown by the average fan.
With that in mind, Phog.Net takes a deeper look at the versatile, speedy and strong guard.
First of all, Knight deserves a lot of credit for not only standing the test of time during his career as a high schooler, but doing it in a mature fashion. Today's world of grassroots basketball is very quick to build up the next 8th grade prodigy just to tear him down as a 10th grade "bust". In other instances, kids develop egos or a sense of entitlement from years of being coddled and treated like royalty. To Knight's credit, he's suffered neither fate and has remained an elite talent without developing a huge ego.
Listed by many as a point guard, there's no question that he can play the position. He's an excellent control dribbler who powers through double teams, gets to the rim with great straight line speed and he's a more than capable setup guy. However, the thing that Knight does best and most often is score the basketball and at some events -- for instance June's NBPA Top 100 camp -- teammates have complained that his scoring sometimes comes at the expense of involving them.
That's just the give and take you get with a prospect like Knight. So while he's a point guard in the sense that he brings the ball up and dominates it in half court, you almost have to list him as a combo guard. That's fine. The truth is that there are few "pure" point guards left these days and he's of that hybrid 6-3/6-4 combo guard mold of say a Gilbert Arenas. Basketball has moved into a new age, and Knight is definitely a new age guard.
More of a driver and finisher when he was first coming up through the ranks, Knight has become a very good shooter. While his shot isn't exactly textbook due to his unorthodox windup, he does get it off quickly with a high release point and there's no shortage of arc or backspin rotation on his shot. Rather than shoot off of the catch, Knight much prefers to let jumpers fly off of the dribble. A definite rhythm shooter, he's most dangerous in pick and roll situations where he looks to be going by one second and all of the sudden explodes off the floor for deep threes. When he doesn't pull-up, powerful shoulders allow him to shake off big men showing off the screen before he explodes to the basket and finishes or dishes.
Not surprisingly, he can be quite streaky and there are times where he seems to lose track of his teammates. Some have even complained that because of that he's a bit selfish. Were he taking bad shots, that would be the case. But lots of shots does not equal bad shots. The fact is, he's capable of creating a good look pretty much whenever he wants to get it. Still, as he learns to trust teammates more and plays with more high level talent, it's a safe bet that he'll see how much setting up others will open up his game.
Defensively, Knight just might be the top perimeter defender in the country. He's got incredible balance, gets into a good crouch with deeply bent knees an slides quickly to stay in front of his man. On top of that, he's got long arms and extremely strong hands making him a pest to reach in and poke the ball free. Even in situations where he looks to be relaxing.
To sum it all up, Knight is pretty much exactly what somebody would come up with if they could design the prototypical new age combo guard. That he's hard working and humble is just gravy. Wherever he ends up, be it Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, Syracuse, Miami or Connecticut, some lucky coach is getting himself a guy who should have an immediate, and significant, impact on both ends of the floor.