Brandon Knight picks Kentucky

Point guard Brandon Knight, a consensus top five player, confirmed what everyone had been speculating for weeks when he signed with the University of Kentucky Wednesday.

Point guard Brandon Knight, a consensus top five player, confirmed what everyone had been speculating for weeks when he signed with the University of Kentucky Wednesday.

Knight announced his college choice live on ESPNU during a ceremony at Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Knight put on a blue UK hat as he announced his decision that sparked a huge round of applause at his high school. His parents, coach and athletics director were on the podium with him.

He said Syracuse, Connecticut, Kansas and Florida were also in his final five and he had strong reasons for considering them all. However, the chance to play point guard for coach John Calipari and follow the footsteps of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall was too much for him to pass up.

"I chose Kentucky because it is a place with great players and great environment and a place to evaluate my game with great coaches and great players around me," said Knight, who hit the game-winning shot in the recent McDonald's All-American Game.

"There was a time I wasn't considering going to Kentucky. All the other schools were great places and had great things to offer. It came down to I was comfortable on my visit (at Kentucky) and where I could get better at."

Knight, who scored his 1,000th point as a freshman, said Calipari's legacy of producing top point guards played a significant role in his recruitment. However, Knight is also an extraordinary student with a 4.3 grade-point average.

"I try to balance education and athletics by keeping my head on straight and knowing it is a privilege to play, and my parents forced me to get school work done to play. I had no choice. My mind will last a lot longer than my legs. I want to be ready for life after basketball," Knight said.

David Beckerman, the head coach at Pine Crest, thinks it's important to understand that Knight is more than an extraordinary basketball player.

"He could go to any school in the country without bouncing a ball," Beckerman said. "He has a 4.3 grade-point average at the No. 1 academic school in Florida. He could not bounce a ball and go to Harvard. He's a once in a lifetime player, but he's also a superb student."

Knight averaged 31.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 3.1 steals per game last year when he became only the third junior — LeBron James and Greg Oden were the other two — to win the national Gatorade Player of the Year award. He also won the award this season when he averaged 32.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

Knight mentioned unsigned high school stars Josh Selby, Terrence Jones, Cory Joseph and C.J. Leslie as top 100 unsigned players he would like to bring with him to Kentucky. He will have a chance to talk to them more about Kentucky when he plays in the Jordan Brand Classic in New York Saturday night.

Paul Biancardi, ESPN's director of recruiting, is a Knight fan.

"He can take a hit and still put the ball in the basket. He has been a winner all his life. He will help Kentucky," Biancardi said during the ESPNU show.

Biancardi said not to compare Knight to Wall, UK's dynamic freshman who could be the No. 1 pick in the June NBA draft.

"It's unfair to compare anyone to John Wall," Biancardi said. "He is a natural fit for Kentucky's style. He will excel in the dribble drive, he plays excellent defense and he can play all 94 feet. He has to learn the nuances of playing point guard. He will excel when he can think and play the game at the same time."

Sporting News college basketball columnist Mike DeCourcy also says not to compare Wall to Calipari's past point guards.

"I think the Wall-Rose mold is a different one altogether. They're probably the two best athletes ever to play the point guard position. I'll be honest about Evans. I thought he was an excellent prospect and less selfish than his critics suggested; that part I got right. But I never saw this coming. I never saw him as a point guard. So how much of that was Cal's vision? Well, he put him there, and nobody else ever thought of it," DeCourcy said.

"Knight has had enough of the ball in his career to show he can handle it like a point guard and do some good things with it, but he still has to prove himself as a creator and passer. He's an excellent athlete and seems to be a winner. Cal's system has proven to be point-guard-friendly enough that it ought to work out just fine for Knight."

Beckerman says Knight is different from Wall, too.

"Wall is blessed with incredible speed, skill and ability. Brandon has a lot of attributes that makes for a complete package. He's very strong, sees the floor extremely well, takes the ball to the hoop well and shoots the 3 well," Beckerman said. "He has two other intangibles. He has a very strong basketball IQ and he has a strong will to win.

"Don't compare him to Wall. He is not John Wall's replacement. He is his own man because he has all the things you want in a point guard."

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