Kentucky basketball team didn’t do a good job integrating freshman including Brandon Knight last season
Although there was certainly excitement when Brandon Knight fell to the Pistons in the draft, there were also many who pointed out that, based on Knight’s one college season, he might not be ready to take on a full-time starting point guard spot right away in the NBA the way fellow John Calipari pupils Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall were. Knight had an up and down freshman season, struggling at times with turnovers and shooting the ball, but according to ESPN’s Dana O’Neil, that could’ve been because Kentucky relied too heavily on freshman too soon last season:
UK may have finished the season in the Final Four, but the Cats didn’t start that way. They were a pedestrian 5-5 in the SEC and 17-7 overall out of the gate, losing six of their first seven conference road games. The blame, at the time, went to the freshmen. They weren’t good enough, not living up to the hype and so on.
Truth is, those on the inside say, it had nothing to do with the freshmen.
“We have to take more time and help them along from the beginning,’’ senior Darius Miller said. “We didn’t do a good job of that last year and I think that’s why we struggled. I think a lot of times, we found ourselves standing back and watching them. We thought they had all this talent and hype, so we should be able to just them go. We can’t do that. We have to help them and lead them.’’
Now, the good news is Knight did adjust and get better as the season progressed, particularly in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to Kentucky’s Final Four run, Knight was projected to go outside the lottery in the 15-20 range by most draft sites. Then, bolstered by some big tournament moments as well as a few high profile prospects deciding to stay in school, Knight’s stock soared and he was projected to go as high as No. 3 overall in the draft before falling to the Pistons.
Although his freshman season definitely produced mixed results, the fact that he seemed to learn quickly and get better later in the season should be a positive sign that he can pick up things quickly at the NBA level as well.
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