Kentucky signs high school star Brandon Knight

John Calipari’s rebuilding project at Kentucky is well under

way.

The Wildcats signed center Enes Kanter and received a commitment

from guard Brandon Knight on Wednesday, two players Calipari hopes

can step in and fill some of the holes left by the defection of

five players to the NBA.

Knight, a McDonald’s All-American and a two-time Gatorade

National Player of the Year, donned a blue Kentucky hat after

making his nationally televised announcement at Pine Crest High in

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I just chose Kentucky because I felt it was a place that had

great players, a great environment and a place where I can elevate

my game,” Knight said on ESPNU.

Knight chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Connecticut, Kansas and

Florida. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Knight was ranked the No. 1

prospect in the country by Rivals.com. He averaged 32 points a game

last year at Pine Crest and ended his high school career as the

second-leading scorer in Florida history.

Knight will have some big shoes to fill at Kentucky, which loses

three players to graduation and could have five underclassmen –

guards John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, forward Patrick Patterson and

centers DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton – leave early to head to

the NBA. The departing underclassmen were the core of a team that

went 35-3 and won the Southeastern Conference tournament before

advancing to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.

Knight cited the success young point guards have enjoyed in

Calipari’s “dribble-drive” offense – namely Wall and current NBA

stars Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans – as a major factor in his

decision.

“The things that’s done with previous players … I think

that’s what entices a lot of players with that situation,” Knight

said.

Calipari could not comment on Knight’s commitment because the

school had not yet received Knight’s letter of intent. However, he

told ESPNU he’s not worried about Kentucky’s ability to sustain its

success.

“When you get this kid and a few other kids signed with the

kids we have coming back, I think we’re going to be fine,” he

said.

Knight will join a freshman class that includes swingman Stacey

Poole and Kanter, a Turkey native who starred at the Nike Hoops

Summit last weekend in Oregon.

Kanter scored an event-record 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds

while playing for the International Team in a loss to the United

States. Kanter spent last season at Stoneridge Preparatory School

in Simi Valley, Calif.

Calipari said Kanter has the body and potential to be

“special.”

The Wildcats are expected receive several more commitments

during the late signing period.