It's quite an honor for the media to select a player for the pre-season all-SEC team, but it can also mean a lot of pressure, particularly when a player has not played a minute of college basketball.
That's what's happened to Brandon Knight, the 6-foot-3 high school sensation from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Knight, who won the Gatorade Player of the Year award in July, already had one cross to bear, taking over the spot of last year's freshman sensation John Wall, an inevitable comparison that had already drawn a great deal of discussion.
"I told him, 'I hate to tell you, they didn't even put that bullseye on John Wall,'" Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "I told him, 'You're going to have every point guard in the league coming after you.'"
In some ways the pressure is self-inflicted. Coach Calipari himself began drawing those Wall comparisons after Knight played so well in a summer exhibition. In UK's three-game tour of Canada, Knight looked every bit like a guy who could handle being John Wall's replacement. He had a 25-point game and a 31-point outburst in the Great White North. For the three games, he averaged 25 points and had 25 assists versus five turnovers.
Calipari said at the time, "John Wall is probably more athletic than him and lankier, yet (Knight) shoots the ball better. Knight's skilled with the ball better, maybe."
Still, the selection caused a few eyebrows to be raised. Tennessee's Scotty Hopson may have said it best, "Brandon Knight is a good player," he said. "But I don't think it's where you start. It's where you finish."
Knight has already shown some resiliency in the matter and there are certainly no outward signs that the pressure is bothering him.
"When I heard you guys had voted him first-team, I said, ‘C'mon, you've got to be kidding me,' " Kentucky Coach John Calipari said at SEC media day. "But I hope at the end of the day you're absolutely right, because if he is first-team all-conference, we'll be pretty good."
The additional pressure is something that the young Brandon Knight just didn't need, in my opinion. SEC newcomers should be excluded from the voting. Untested players simply don't need the giant target on their backs and veteran SEC players deserve their spot in the sun.