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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.

11 Comments

  • Oct 17, 201112:55 pm
    by Joseph Hudgions

    Reply

    As one who has been a UK Wildcat fan for over 50 years I wish Brandon Knight well in his NBA career, if indeed the NBA survives it’s spat between the owners and the players. I think that Knight, like all new players, was the victim of too much expectations at the beginning of the season, which was why his performance seemed to be less than what he was capable of. Point guard is likely the hardest position for a true freshman to come in and contribute right away, especially at a high level. After playing 15-20 games Knight was more used to his teammates, and they to him, and it seemed like he was playing better, even if it was just the team starting to mesh. I’m sure that Knight will have a successful career as a pro but I would not be surprised if it took a year or two for him to become the top flight PG everyone is looking for.

  • Oct 17, 20112:11 pm
    by DVS

    Reply

    unfortunately there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the kid whenever the next season starts. A high lottery pick will always carry those expectations.
    But i hope he gets the time to make those rookie mistakes and learn his game. that could take a long time but he seems to have all the tools to be a great player.
    watching Monroe develop after his relatively slow start was easily the highlight of last season, and I’m hoping for something similar with Knight.
     

    • Oct 17, 20115:02 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Well, he was taken with a mid-lottery pick. So at least he shouldn’t be judged on overly high expectations.

      • Oct 18, 201111:49 am
        by dvs

        Reply

        True, but Detroit fans are desperate for something, which brings the expectations a little higher than most.

  • Oct 19, 20111:46 am
    by Jodi Jezz

    Reply

    I expect rookie of the year from this kid!..

    • Oct 19, 20113:19 am
      by DVS

      Reply

      classic Jodi…..
      and CV will win Most improved too right?? :P

      • Oct 19, 201112:15 pm
        by Jodi Jezz

        Reply

        Come on, you gotta think highly of our players…You don’t think BK has enough to win rookie of the year?

        • Oct 19, 201112:47 pm
          by dvs

          Reply

          haha just kidding around mate..
          I have no doubt the knight has the tools to be a very good starter in the league and that’s all that matters right now.
          I don’t see him contending for Rookie of the year though as he won’t get the minutes.
          we have too many guards atm and other rookies will see more court time.
           

  • Oct 19, 20116:05 am
    by Saul

    Reply

    And Ben Gordon will lead the NBA in scoring, winning MVP! :p

    • Oct 19, 201112:16 pm
      by Jodi Jezz

      Reply

      That’s a possibility! haha

  • Oct 20, 201111:02 am
    by Murph

    Reply

    Hmmmm…  I’m not sure I buy that excuse.  The same coach developed his star PGs differently, resulting in Knight underperforming Evans, Rose and Wall in college?…not likely.  I think a better explanation might be that Knight just wasn’t as talented as Evens, Rose and Wall, in college.

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