Knowles signs with Louisville

Standout guard Preston Knowles signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Louisville Wednesday afternoon in the library at George Rogers Clark High school. travelled to Winchester, KY and has the scoop.

Standout guard Preston Knowles signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Louisville Wednesday afternoon in the library at George Rogers Clark High school.

Joined by his mother Kim Gibson, his aunt Dana Gibson and family friend Charlie Givens, Knowles made his commitment to Rick Pitino's program official. Several teammates, friends and coaches and Clark faculty also attended Knowles' press conference.

"Preston is the first athlete to leave Clark County to pursue an athletic scholarship at the University of Louisville and for that alone he should be congratulated," Clark coach Scott Humphrey said.

Knowles made an official visit to U of L last Friday, returning to Winchester late Saturday night. The 6-2, 170 pound guard slept on decision Saturday and Sunday night, then told his coach Monday that he wanted to play for Pitino's Cardinals.

"Louisville has a very rich tradition and being able to pay for Rick Pitino is a once in a lifetime opportunity because their program is up there with Kentucky and Kansas," Knowles said. "Just being associated with the name Louisville is an honor. It just felt like home."

During his visit, Knowles saw a different side of his future coach.

"My impression of him is somewhat different because he has a sense of humor and he's a very funny guy," Knowles said of Pitino. "We got along and him and his assistants are just good people and one thing that I noticed is that they won't lie to you, sugar-coat things or beat around the bushes."

Before his visit to Louisville, Knowles was leaning toward signing with Virginia Commonwealth. VCU coach Anthony Grant made Knowles a top priority, making several recruiting visits last season. But that all changed after getting an offer from Louisville.

"VCU was the only other official visit I did take and they were with me through thick and thin, and even though I picked Louisville, if it had been any other school I probably would have picked VCU," Knowles said. "But I went to Louisville and got a good feel for them and they told me everything that I wanted to hear."

Louisville jumped into the race for Knowles services relatively late during the recruiting process. The Cardinals first saw Knowles during the regional finals against Mason County last month when he scored 33 points in an upset victory over the 10th favorites. After that performance, Louisville put on a full court press for his signature.

"I think the first time they saw me was when we played Mason County for the (regional) championship and then after that they started watching me more," Knowles said.

During his visit, Knowles acquitted himself well against U of L's players, who quickly got word back to Pitino and his staff that the kid from Winchester could play ball.

"I had a nice little run (during pickup games) and I guess the players told the coaches because they weren't allowed to be in there to watch," Knowles said. "So I guess (the coaches) got a good report on me and it all came from that."

His play against Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith and the rest of the Cards also served a major purpose for Knowles' own confidence, proving to himself that he could play at the highest level.

"Personally, I really wanted to see if I was up there in caliber playing against D-I players and I think I did good," Knowles said. "It was mostly (against) their stars and I just wanted to test myself and prove that I was able to play against them and I did a good job.

"It was way different from high school. Every little thing you do you pay for it. Like if you don't slide the right way or get screened you pay for it. Mistakes are going to happen, but I think I'm ready."

Knowles said he'll bring a strong work ethic, a solid offensive game and a team-first attitude to Louisville next season.

"(I'll bring) passion and a lot of emotion in a positive way," Knowles said. "One of my greatest strengths is my ability to work and get better day in and day out. How I am is if I play against people who are better eventually I will come up to their level and then excel at that level. I want to try to do anything to help my team win."

Knowles, who played point guard in high school, probably fits better in college, at least early in his career, as an off the ball scorer. Still, Knowles could see some time at the point. If so, he says he'll need to improve one important aspect of his game.

"If I play point guard I need to improve my decision-making," he said.

Regardless what position he eventually ends up playing, one thing is certain: Preston Knowles wants to make his own mark at U of L.

"To be honest with you I always wanted to be me," Knowles said. "I don't want to be like anybody else and I want to make my own mark. And I think I have the mind-set and ability to do it."

Knowles will arrive in Louisville Thursday and will participate in the adidas Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic this weekend.

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