Draft Notebook: Quick-study Knight confident in ability to play the point
Brandon Knight worked out for the Kings, who have the seventh pick in the draft
The ex-Kentucky guard is believed to be drawing interest as high as No. 3 (Utah)
Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette will square off in a Kings workout next week
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Brandon Knight is a quick learner.
We know that much from his grade-point average alone. The former Kentucky point guard had a 4.3 GPA in his final year at Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a 4.0 mark in his one year with the Wildcats. He was a quick study in one season under coach John Calipari, too, enduring a five-month crash course on how to play the point guard position in a more conventional way after spending his prep years as a one-man show of sorts.
"I've got the question [from NBA teams], 'Am I a true point guard?' " Knight said. "And obviously my answer is yes. I think I was able to prove that this past season as I developed into a guy who can facilitate and run a team."
Yet while his size (6-foot-3¼ in shoes, 177 pounds), speed and scoring ability are impressive enough that he is expected to be taken in the top half of the lottery in the June 23 draft, it's clear that the learning curve will continue in the pros. The question of whether he can be a playmaker remains, and it wasn't answered during his workout with Sacramento on Thursday.
Knight ran through drills but did not share the Kings' practice facility floor with any of his draft classmates, a decision that a source close to the team said came from his camp. Not that it mattered much when it came to the Kings, who pick seventh and would be elated if he fell that far.
As Knight intimated, it appears Sacramento is the projected floor when it comes to his stock. He is believed to be drawing significant interest as high as the No. 3 spot (Utah) and will work out next with Toronto (No. 5 pick).
"Sacramento is a great city, [and] I know some guys that play on this team," Knight said. "You never know where you might slide to. And say I did get to seven, I didn't want to have the opportunity [to go to the Kings but] they didn't get to see me and didn't want to take a chance just because I didn't do a workout."
If the Kings took Knight, he would become their third consecutive Calipari-coached selection. Sacramento drafted Memphis' Tyreke Evans in 2009 and Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins last year.
"I think it'd be kind of big, just the guys having the same mentality, having prepared the same way for this level," Knight said of the idea that three Calipari players could join forces in the pros. "I think it might lead to having good chemistry right off the bat."
The Kings are looking for a potent, ball-moving guard to add to their backcourt, and Knight said he's open to the idea of filling that role. Even if he's not yet sure about the fit. The Kings are expected to re-sign restricted free-agent guard Marcus Thornton and also have veteran point guard Beno Udrih on the roster.
"As long as I could come in and be able to run a team," he said of his willingness to play for the Kings. "I'm not sure how it would work with Tyreke, but I'm pretty sure we could play together. I just want to come in and fit in wherever I go."
Calipari taught him how to do that much. And much more.
"He forced me to talk to guys," Knight said. "When I wasn't talking, he stopped practice and said, 'Brandon, you're letting the team down, you're not talking. You're being selfish.' He forced me to say certain things that I wouldn't say to guys before in high school. Through that, we kind of a built a trust with one another. He just basically built us into a family. We became a family first and then it became easy to lead guys who I trusted.
"I think I grew a lot [at Kentucky]. In the beginning, I was making a lot of bad mistakes, lot of bad reads. And toward the end of the season, I was making most of the time the right play and the right decisions, so I think I grew a lot."
While Duke's Kyrie Irving is expected to be taken No. 1 by Cleveland, the question of whether teams value Knight or Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker more will be key in the top 10. Walker won their final clash in college, finishing with 18 points (on 6-of-15 shooting), seven assists and four turnovers in the Huskies' 56-55 victory against Kentucky in the Final Four. Knight hit just 6-of-23 for 17 points to go with five assists and three turnovers, capping a tournament in which he shot only 32.9 percent (26-for-79).
Walker (6-1 in shoes, 184 pounds) is proving to be more bold when it comes to taking on all comers in the draft process. A source told SI.com that he will face off with BYU's Jimmer Fredette in a Sacramento workout next week.
"He's a smaller guard, but he's extremely quick, also has a will to win and is a great competitor," Knight said of Walker. "He finds ways to score."
Fredette, the phenom who started his own YouTube channel this week, appears to be in play for the Kings at No. 7 as well. Sacramento badly needs a consistent shooter, and all the better if he has an impact at the turnstiles, too.
As first reported by ESPN.com, Boston College point guard Reggie Jackson had what a source close to him described as "a small procedure done on his knee" on May 17. The news put to bed a growing mystery that league executives were eager to solve, as Jackson had pulled out of the Chicago predraft camp in mid-May and the group workout in Minnesota thereafter. Jackson, who is expected to be ready for individual team workouts by mid-June, is expected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second round.
Shooting guards Marshon Brooks (6-5¼, 195, Providence senior) and Josh Selby (6-3, 195, Kansas freshman) are expected to be on the rise in relation to SI.com's most recent mock draft, on May 25. I had Brooks going to Denver (No. 22) and Selby to Dallas (No. 26).
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