As expected, star point guard Brandon Knight stated at a press conference today that he will remain in the 2011 NBA Draft and forgo his remaining three years of college eligibility. Knight will almost certainly be drafted in the lottery, and currently signs point to him being drafted somewhere in the 5-7 range.
Knight came to Kentucky as a McDonald's All-American and the 2009 and 2010 Gatorade National Basketball Player of the Year. However, questions quickly abounded about whether Knight had enough "true point guard" skills to fully succeed in John Calipari's well-oiled offense. At his press conference, Knight even admitted as such. "The way I was playing at the beginning of the year, I couldn't have gone anywhere," Knight said.
While he never developed into a first-rate facilitator, averaging just 4.2 assists per game and 3.2 turnovers per game, Knight was a prolific scorer. He poured in double-digits in all but 3 games, and in two of those, he ended up hitting the game-winner. Those shots are no doubt ingrained in your memory, as they came against Princeton and Ohio State in the NCAA tournament. Knight ended the year leading the team with 17.3 PPG, with a slash line of .423/.795/.377. He was also a true-difference maker for the ballclub, playing in a team-leading 89.4% of minutes, and being involved in 26.8% of the team's possessions.
Knight's big shot propensity, scoring ability, and leadership helped propel Kentucky to its first Final Four since 1998. That's a feat that neither ex-Wildcat points John Wall or Rajon Rondo can claim. For his efforts, Knight was awarded first team All-SEC and first team freshman All-America, and was a finalist for the Bob Cousy and Wayman Tisdale awards. Most importantly, he was a model student, a class act both on and off the court, and a great ambassador for the Kentucky Wildcats program. He will truly be missed, and I'm sure all of Big Blue Nation wish him the best of luck in the NBA.
Some final words, from his head coach John Calipari: "He's a great kid. I'm happy to see [him] taking the steps to make his dreams come true. We will miss him."