This is the first installment in our series of player recaps for the 2010-11 Louisville Cardinals. We will take a look at every player, returning or not, and provide thoughts on their season from an individual standpoint. We kick it off with departing senior Preston Knowles.
From a scoring perspective, Preston had his best statistical year at Louisville. He averaged 14.6 ppg, which more than doubled his scoring average as a junior (7.2 ppg). Preston shot 38% from the floor, 38% from three point range, and 81% from the charity stripe. As a result of that scoring, Preston became the 62nd 1,000 point scorer in program history.
However, aside from scoring the basketball, Preston also had his best season in several other categories as well.
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Preston averaged 3.9 boards per game, nearly a full rebound more than his 2009-10 average. He also dished out 3.1 assists per game, which was also nearly a full assist more each contest when compared to the previous season. Defensively, PK averaged 1.9 steals per game, and had 63 for the season.
Again, from a purely statistical perspective, Preston’s final season as a Cardinal was his best.
Preston hit so many big shots and made so many big plays this year, it’s truly tough to narrow it down to just one. That said, I think his performance during the Miracle on Main comeback against Marquette was Preston’s finest moment. Sure, he hit several huge shots during the comeback, including his turnaround bomb of a three to cut the lead to 67-65 with 1:20 to play.
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However, the biggest play Preston made during that game was the pass to Kyle Kuric for the winning basket with 4 seconds remaining. Preston was triple teamed off a Kuric screen and as he jumped from just beyond the foul line, found Kuric wide open underneath the bucket. Marquette’s final attempt would not go and the Cards secured the win 71-70. That play caused Rick Pitino to say afterwards, “Now I’ve seen it all. Preston Knowles made the game winning pass.”
Also, I would like to comment on Preston’s leadership. One of the key components missing from the 2009-10 Louisville squad was a void in leadership and with the 2010-11 team being young from an experience perspective, someone was going to have to step up and become a leader for the team to have success.
Preston did just that. He led both vocally and with his play on the floor, which is something I always view as necessary to be a true leader. I think the team’s success this year was in large part a result of Preston truly playing and acting like a captain.
Sadly, the low point for Preston came during his final game and really through no fault of his own. Preston injured his left foot with 8:51 to play against Morehead State and was forced to watch the last game of his career helpless on the bench. As I said in my postgame thoughts, losing was tough, but having to see Preston sit there, unable to play in his final game was much worse. You simply hate to see a kid’s career end on that note, especially a player like Preston Knowles. He deserved to go out swinging, not sitting.
Obviously, Preston will not be playing for Louisville next year, but I fully expect him to be playing professional basketball somewhere. He is such a competitor and can be such a pest defensively, I would think a NBA team would at least give him a look in Summer League (depending on the NBA’s potential lockout situation).
If he cannot stick in the Association, I have no doubt Preston can play in Europe. Several former Cards who have not yet made it in the NBA are having success in Europe or elsewhere, and Preston surely can do the same.
Whatever he does, I think I speak on behalf of the entire Louisville fan base by wishing Preston nothing but the best in his post-Louisville career and thank him for his contributions to the Cardinal program