The Kentucky Wildcats have been looking for a player to step up and take on the leadership role since the beginning of the season. Many, including myself, believed that this role was Darius Miller’s to take and why wouldn’t you?
He has an impressive resume which includes playing on the U.S.A. U-18 Olympic team and has had plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of the Kentucky program. He is a Kentucky boy and was coming into his junior year.
The one problem that many people overlooked was that Miller is a soft spoken person. He isn’t the type player that will get in your face and yell at you, he goes out on the floor and takes care of his business and that is good enough for him. Floor general is not something that is made out for everyone.
Last season we saw a freshmen take over the role in John Wall. He demanded excellence from everyone on the team including himself and when he or anyone else on the team missed a lay-up or threw a bad pass he was all over you. The country saw John Wall grow up in front of their eyes.
This season has been a bit similar for the Wildcats. A freshmen point guard came in not having a general understanding what losing was like and was not going to accept it. Brandon Knight has been the catalyst of a youthful team that has faced much adversity in the first half of the season.
Now, Knight has not been as dynamic as a player as John Wall was last year but he has been much more consistent and I believe his leadership capabilities are much better. In the Penn game, Eloy Vargas was struggling and had a mental lapse. The first person in his face was the freshmen point guard, Knight.
You can watch him on the floor and as he brings the ball up the floor he has incredible awareness of what he is looking at. It looks as if he is playing the board game Risk. He is setting up his players, pointing his finger in directions were they should be. He essentially is setting up his army to attack.
You have to like point guards who have the ability to do that. He knows how he wants his team to attack the basket and will make sure they are in prime location to do so. He has been vocal during both wins and losses and he has no problem taking the blame when he performs below par.
Knight also knows that scoring is not his main focus on the team. He needs to get other involved. At the start of the season, John Calipari believed that Knight was playing for himself and needed to be the scorer on the team. Over the past couple of games he has been getting his teammates more involved while still contributing offensively.
Knight brings excitement to his team. Last season it wasn’t difficult to bring excitement to players like DeMarcus Cousins, Josh Harrellson or Eric Bledsoe. They were excited any time they stepped on the floor. This year it has been a little more difficult to do.
The personalities on the team are much different from last year. I don’t know if I have seen Terrence Jones smile once and he seems to always get down on himself if his game starts off sluggish. Doron Lamb is a shorter and better version of Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins has split personalities. He is either really excited and gets his team excited or he gets down on himself and it affects anyone around him.
Brandon Knight brings stability to a team that is anything but stable. He does his best to get his team into the game and it is a job he is more then happy to have. It is one of the hardest jobs ever to be a leader on any team. When things go wrong you are to blame and when they go right it is a team effort. It is a glory-less job but every good team needs one.