Kentucky fans will miss Brandon Knight.
The deadline has passed, the decision is made. Brandon Knight has stepped onto that lateen-rigged white ship and is sailing off into the West, passing into the Undying Land known as the National Basketball Association. We all anticipated this possibility when Knight came here, and now it has come to fruition, just as so many imagined it might.
Knight came to Kentucky one of the most decorated high-school players in the history of the sport. Knight was a 2-time Gatorade Player of the Year, one of only three players (LeBron James and Greg Oden are the other two) to win the Gatorade POY award as a junior.
Knight led his academic-oriented Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to three Class 3A Florida state championships, winning two and finishing runner-up in 2010, when he played in the finals with a groin injury he sustained in the semifinals. Knight holds the scoring and assist game and season records at Pine Crest, among others.
Knight has a few honors at Kentucky as well. He is the new freshman scoring leader in school history with 657 points, 41 more than John Wall's record set last year. He is now second on the list of freshman assist leaders with 159, well behind John Wall's 241 last year. He also holds the freshman record for most field goals, most 3-point field goals and most 3-point attempts.
Knight was also a unanimous All SEC first team, All-NCAA Regional most outstanding player, on the All SEC Tournament team and All SEC Freshman team.
Unlike Wall before him, Knight did not light up the court with his smile or his exuberance. His approach to basketball can only be described as "professional," and not once all year did you see Knight complain to an official or get into a confrontation with anyone. As the old saying goes, he behaved as if he had been there before, and that included every game he played all the way up to his last, the first Final Four by a Kentucky Wildcats team in 13 seasons.
Knight, like Wall before him, led the team both on the court and in the classroom. Knight was a different kind of player than Wall, but both of them were extremely mature for freshmen and used that maturity to lead the team to success.
Knight will be remembered as one of the better pick and roll players ever to play at Kentucky. Toward the end of the season, Knight and senor center Josh Harrellson were extremely effective in pick-and-roll handoffs, especially when Knight was hitting the jump shot.
Another great thing about Brandon Knight was his willingness to do anything coach Calipari asked him to do. Knight was not the most unselfish player ever to wear the Blue and White, but he was willing to give up the ball when his teammates were putting it in the basket, and that speaks highly of his ability. Knight's demeanor on the court was almost always the same, and everything he did reflected credit upon himself, his family, and the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky fans will miss Knight's versatility and speed, and even though Marquis Teague looks like a capable replacement, he doesn't have anything like the offensive game of Knight. Of course, given the type of team Kentucky will be fielding next year, Teague is likely better suited than Knight to fill the point guard position.
On be half of the Big Blue Nation, I would like to wish Brandon Knight all the best realizing his NBA dream. Godspeed, Brandon, and thanks for the memories.