Noah Knight got hooked listening to new UMKC coach Kareem Richardson talk about bringing the same gritty defensive style that helped Louisville win a national championship to his new job.
Driving back from Atchison with his parents last weekend, Knight, who will be a senior at Olathe South, decided he didn’t need to wait for any other offers and cashed in the one he’d already received.
Knight — a 6-foot guard who led the 16-6 Falcons in points (13.0), rebounds (5.8), assists (4.0) and steals (2.9) — immediately called Richardson from the car and committed to the Kangaroos.
“The coaching staff was a big factor in choosing UMKC,” Knight said. “I really like them and they’re bringing a new style to UMKC, which I think will fit me very well.”
Much like Rick Pitino’s national champion Cardinals, Richardson’s teams will play a full-court pressure defense, aiming to create turnovers and generate easy offense in transition.
It’s a style that suits Knight, whose sister Natalie plays basketball for Kansas.
“My strengths are on the defensive end,” Knight said. “I love to play defense and that’s what they’re going to want from me, so I’m extremely excited.”
Of course, Knight’s offensive game isn’t bad either. He shot 47 percent from the field, including 38 percent from the three-point line, and also shot 75.5 percent from the free-throw line as a junior.
“I think he’s kind of sleeper,” Olathe South coach Jim Carr said. “The only thing holding him back from going to an even higher level is that he’s 6-0. If he was 6-3, everybody would be knocking down the door for him.
“He’s so fundamentally sound and he’s strong. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he’s got some deceptive quickness to him. Plus, he’s such a team player. I think he’ll be a great fit there.”
Knight had flirted with Tulsa and recently was contacted by Stephen F. Austin and Eastern Illinois, but everything about UMKC just felt right.
“Staying close to home was important,” Knight said. “Being able to have my family and friends still come to see me play, was a huge deal. It just felt like a good time for me to commit and it felt like the perfect fit.”