Brandon Knight decided at an early age that he would accept nothing less than perfection in himself and in those who guided him.
Reflecting on his earliest basketball memory, the 19-year-old Knight says, “I remember going outside, playing with my cousin and him just beating me repeatedly.” Always a competitor, Knight worked to perfect his shot while his rivals played video games. A couple weeks later, he beat his cousin.
Knight’s desire to achieve perfection wasn’t limited to the court. In academics, B’s weren’t good enough. “I took [school] very seriously, getting straight A’s,” remembers Knight. “I took it the same way as a loss. If I got a B, I took that as a loss.” Knight’s mother confirms her son’s intense drive, saying “That’s just the type of person he is. Just real competitive, doesn’t like to settle for anything but perfection.”
The desire for perfection also applied to Knight’s college search and selection. During his senior year, when his recruitment intensified, he started looking at schools’ previous season performance to help guide his decision. He took particular note of Kentucky, and Coach John Calipari’s success became a significant factor in his process. “Wherever Coach Cal went, the teams got better throughout the year, and his players individually got better and they won games,” Knight says. That certainly included Kentucky’s program.
With the facts lined up, Knight’s decision was easy. “Why not go to a place where I know I’m going to get better? Where I know I’m going to win games? Where I know I’m going to have a chance to go to the next level?” Needless to say, Knight accomplished all three of those goals during his Final Four season with the Wildcats, on his way to becoming a first-round pick by the Detroit Pistons in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Knight saw his desire for perfection reflected in Coach Cal and Kentucky basketball. The program’s success and growth fed his hunger for continual improvement on the court, and UK fulfilled his desire for intense athletics and challenging academics. Kentucky pushed him to the next stage—the NBA.
When evaluating colleges, expand your research beyond the programs themselves to include coaches’ histories and track records. Look for a school and coach that reflect your values as an individual. That way, you’ll give yourself a better chance of finding a perfect match.