Brandon Knight hit some of the biggest shots in UK history this season. Big Blue Nation will never forget his layup that sunk the dreams of Princeton or that jumper that ended Ohio State's run for a title. Fans watched a player mature over the season into one of the best point guards in the nation.
Yet it wasn't just his work on the court that gained attention of UK fans. Knight is known as a hard worker on the court and in the classroom. As mentioned a few times during the NCAA tournament, Brandon will be a junior after the he finishes classes this spring semester. That is pretty impressive for someone just one year removed from high school.
A family friend of the Knight family says that there is even more to the player and student that Cat fans have a fallen in love with this season. Larry Vaught takes an indepth look at Brandon Knight throught the eyes of that family friend in this article for the Advocate Messenger. Here are some excerpts.
“Brandon is a great kid, but more importantly he is a great Christian. Everyone talks about his great work ethics in the classroom and on the basketball court, but what the public does not know is that on every Sunday, Brandon Knight and family were the first family in church,” said the friend, who asked to be identified only as “Coach V.” “He openly worshiped, and most people in the church did not know he was a great athlete until he started winning honors on a national level. He was very shy to talk about it.
“I can’t speak enough about a great family and kid. They kept the AAU sharks away, stayed true to real friends and made sure that he kept God No. 1. He always made sure God was No. 1.”
Coach V says he’s never heard Knight use a curse word.
“If he said one, I would be shocked. He is a true Christian, and nothing is more important to him,” the friend said. “The pastor made it clear that no one is bigger than the church and you have to live right.
“If you saw his dad, Efrem, you saw Brandon. They were joined at the hip. They just don’t come any better than Brandon, and it was special to see him grow up and develop into the player he did.”
“I always talked to his dad three or four times a week. I almost lost my mind when he hit that shot (against Ohio State). But I expected it, because he is such a competitor,” Coach V said. “I think his dad hated that venue Saturday (in Houston at the Final Four when UK lost to Connecticut). It was a tough shooting place.
“But they are all very happy at Kentucky. They love the experience. I have no idea about whether he’ll go pro or not. That is their decision. I would love to see him stay one more year, but eventually Brandon Knight will be a general manager of a NBA team.
“Winning is one thing, but he always wants to take everything to the highest level he can. Yet if you put in a room of adults and kids his age and had a few 10- or 11-year-old kids in there, too, Brandon would hang out with the young kids. That’s just the way he is.”
“I always thought he would go in the top three or four in the draft. If he’s just a top-10 pick, then I think his stock has dropped because if there are seven or eight players better than him, I have not seen them. And Kentucky has yet to see him at his absolute best, either.”
Still, Coach V will always remember more about Knight’s faith than his basketball, no matter what he does at Kentucky or in the NBA.
“I was going through some turmoil when I joined the church, and the energy was just incredible. But once I started talking sports with the members, no one really knew how good a basketball player he was before he was a sophomore,” Coach V said. “They didn’t even know he was one of the top players in the nation in his age group.
“He had attended church there for several years, but no one knew how good a basketball player he was. His family was just there to worship. It was incredible, and Brandon was too quiet to tell anyone about himself.
“When (Kentucky coach John) Calipari said this year that Brandon needed to be more vocal and pumped up, I knew that was not the Brandon I knew. I have seen him win big games and state championships and just walk off the court, because this kid has his priorities and life in the right order.”