For the fourth straight year, a John Calipari-coached point guard -- specifically, a freshman guard -- has been taken in the first round of the NBA Draft with the Detroit Pistons' selection of Knight with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Newark, N.J.
Knight, who was once projected as a top-three pick, slid just a bit as he sat in the "green room" Thursday night. The wait made for some anxious moments for Knight, but the former UK freshman was ultimately pleased with where he landed.
"I'm just happy to be picked by the Pistons," Knight said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I had a great interview with them. I didn't get a chance to work out with the Pistons but I had the chance to meet with Joe Dumars and he's a great guy."
Of course, Knight won't forget the minor wait he endured. Speaking at a news conference at the Prudential Center in Newark, Knight said he'll use the fall as motivation in his rookie season.
"The draft is inexact," Knight said. "You can't think about it now. The thing about it is, from now on it's just about making people pay that passed me up."
Knight was passed over by six international picks despite leading Kentucky to the Final Four for the first time since 1998. Knight led UK with a 17.3 scoring average and dished out a team-high 159 assists.
And yet, despite Knight's intelligence, ability to score and length, teams started to wonder about his ability to play point guard in the final few days. Ultimately, it likely led to his slide.
Knight said in his post-draft interview on ESPN that he's already proved to people that he can play point guard in the NBA.
"I think I did a good job proving that this year," Knight said. "Throughout the entire year I had that question and I was able to lead my team to a Final Four."
Earlier in the day, speaking at one of his satellite camps in Louisville, head coach John Calipari was shocked at the questions Knight was getting over his ability to play the one. Remember, all three of Calipari's three point guards over the last three years have enjoyed budding success.
"I think that comes from people who never played," Calipari said of the questions. "One person said it so they all say it. You have to score as a point guard in that league to be a player, so whoever says, 'Well, he's a scoring guard,' good, even better, because he is a point guard who can score. If you cannot score as a point guard in that league, you will not be in there longer than two or three years. You're out."
Knight was the starting point guard during UK's 29-win season, hitting game-winning shots against Princeton and Ohio State in the Wildcats' Final Four run.
"All I know is he's a basketball player who runs a club and can score, and that's what everybody is looking for," said Calipari, who flew to Newark Thursday afternoon to attend the draft.
Knight joins a Detroit team that, after dominating the Eastern Conference in the early part of the millennium, has missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
The Pistons are stockpiled with guards Rodney Stuckey, Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon -- three of the top four leading scorers -- bringing into question what moves Detroit will make going forward to make room for Knight. Former UK forward and gold medalist Tayshaun Prince is also on Detroit, although Knight said he's never met him.
It seemed fitting in a way that Knight fell to Detroit in the end. The Pistons' president, Joe Dumars, was a combo guard like Knight who would have likely been a lead guard had he not played alongside Isiah Thomas. Dumars won two NBA titles as a player with the Pistons.
"He may have been the most impressive guy in terms of the interview process in Chicago," Dumars said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "Just an off-the-charts guy."
Along with Enes Kanter, Knight is the fifth NBA lottery pick from Kentucky in the last two years.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," Knight said. "I'm a player that likes to learn. I know in Detroit I'll be able to learn."