Knight Working Hard To Reach Goals

Dec. 4, 2002

By Brian Gomez, www.thesundevils.com

From Tempe-Chandler Wrangler News

Nearly every collegiate basketball player aspires to be remembered for something, whether it be for making a game-winning basket, for setting a school record or for simply hustling in practice.

But Arizona State forward Donnell Knight doesn't dream of glory or unforgettable performances.

Knight was quoted in the Sun Devil men's basketball media guide as saying he simply wants to be remembered as 'the guy who stays strong during bad times.'

Knight had his fair share of struggles last year when averaging only 13.4 minutes per game after an impressive sophomore season. This year, ASU head coach Rob Evans has added a wealth of depth to the lineup, but the 6-foot-7, 200-pound product from Tempe Corona del Sol High School has proven worthy of keeping his spot as a starter.

is deSome people thought Knight would take a backseat to junior forward Jamal Hill, who transferred to ASU from San Jose City College in the off-season. However, Knight has raised many eyebrows by doing the little things that please Evans.

Through five games this season, Knight has hauled down a team-leading 36 rebounds. Knight had only 76 boards in 28 games last year.

'My dad tells me I don't always need someone to pass me the ball,' Knight said. 'If I rebound, that's two steps in one.'

Knight has still shown a tendency to commit too many turnovers, something that has to stop if he wants to play at the next level. Knight, who is scheduled to graduate next summer with a degree in sociology, has thought about playing professionally.

'I want to try to go to the NBA, but I'm also realistic about the situation,' he said. 'I'm going to try to go to the NBA and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, maybe I want to take a different route.'

For the time being, Knight is concerned with helping lead the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1994-95 season. ASU has made a pair of appearances in the National Invitation Tournament since Knight latched on with the program prior to the 1999-2000 season, but he has never had the privilege of playing in the Big Dance.

Expectations are again high in Tempe as the Sun Devils are off to a 4-1 start. After winning two of three games at the Maui Invitational, they returned home and celebrated an 85-62 victory over Lafayette. Knight scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds as senior shooting guard Curtis Millage sat on the bench in foul trouble for most of the second half.

'He provided some of the energy we needed,' Evans said. 'He's getting better. I was really proud of his effort.'

Knight credits Evans not only for helping him become a better player, but also a better person. He has received a lot of support from his father and from Corona head coach Joe Maisel, who has passionately followed Knight throughout his collegiate career.

'He carried the team on his shoulders for a long time,' Maisel said. 'He stood out above any high school player I ever saw. I still believe that when his game is on, he can dominate on the court with anybody.'

A year after transferring from Phoenix St. Mary's, Knight averaged 18.8 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and a school-record 4.2 blocks per game as a senior when the Aztecs captured the Class 5A Central Region title. He twice set the school record for blocks in a game with eight.

'I know I can play this game,' Knight said. 'Now is just the time for me to step up.'

Reach the reporter at brian.gomez@asu.edu.

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