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Confident Knight says he wants Irving after Jazz workout

Published June 18, 2011 1:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jimmer Fredette created the most buzz. But Brandon Knight was the real deal.

The former Kentucky guard ran through an hour-long solo workout Thursday with the Jazz. After the session was over, the 19-year-old that many predict Utah will select with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft delivered an unexpected message. Knight strongly feels that he ranks among the most talented athletes in a weak draft class. And after being accused during recent weeks of ducking prospects such as ex-Connecticut guard Kemba Walker during pre-draft sessions, Knight revealed his true aspiration.

"The guy I'm trying to work out against is Kyrie Irving," said Knight, referring to the former Duke point guard widely expected to be taken No. 1 overall by Cleveland.

The 6-foot-3, 177-pound Knight asserted that he is a true point guard. He attended Kentucky and followed in the footsteps of NBA stars such as John Wall to learn the position. He then attempted to prove during his Jazz workout that he can excel when commanding a professional team.

"I was working with all the coaches," Knight said. "It was pick-and-rolls, spot shots, finishing with my left hand. … Pretty much everything."

He added: "I got a pretty good vibe. Everywhere I've been has been a pretty good connection with the team and the coaches. I felt good being in this environment."

Irving's confidence was clearly apparent during a post-workout interview, as was his often-discussed intelligence. Knight held a 4.3 grade-point average during high school and was praised by Wildcats coach John Calipari, who highlighted Knight's work ethic and compared him to Jazz legend John Stockton.

"I go hard," Knight said. "I try to take my drills serious, and try to focus and make sure I'm hitting shots. And try and pay attention to detail and pay attention to what they tell me to do."

Knight is open to playing for the Jazz, and is intrigued by the idea of performing in an offensive system that Stockton, Karl Malone and Jerry Sloan made famous. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said Knight is a "mirror image" of his videotaped performances, and believes the unproven Knight will eventually develop into a "big" point guard. Knight worked out for about two hours Wednesday night after arriving in Salt Lake City, adding to his positive impression.

"He showed himself very well. He did a really good job," Corbin said. "It was one-on-zero. But to show his talent level. ... His basketball IQ seemed to be high."

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said the organization will not hold Knight's decision to work out solo against him, since he was simply following the orders of his agent. Utah has already heavily scouted Knight — watching him practice several times at Kentucky, among other settings — and Thursday's workout was just another piece of promising information.

"What you determine is, is he willing to try and make everyone on the team better, rather than make himself better," O'Connor said. "And if you've got enough quickness and you've got enough athleticism and you can handle the ball well enough, then you can be a point guard."bsmith@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribjazzfacebook.com/tribjazz