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UK in the summer league: Knight shines brightly

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The NBA Summer League is about to get busier as play in Las Vegas gets underway Friday. This season, 26 teams will participate in the league in Sin City as they look to develop their young talent. 

With DeAndre Liggins (Orlando Magic), Brandon Knight (Detroit Pistons) and Enes Kanter (Utah Jazz) all in action over the past week, an additional slew of former Kentucky Wildcats will be getting their first summer league action this weekend. 

The 2012 national player of the year, Anthony Davis, will not participate in the summer league due to his obligations to Team USA. The No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets was summoned Thursday to play with the team in their exhibition game against John Calipari's Dominican Republic team. Davis scored nine points in 10 fourth-quarter minutes to steal the show late for the Americans.

Over the last couple of days, the former Wildcats competing in the Orlando Pro League have been making some serious noise of their own. 

Brandon Knight

Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Knight has had a tale of two days in his last two games. In Wednesday's 83-62 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City Thunder, Knight's Pistons were in complete dysfunction. Knight had one of his poorer games of the league thus far, scoring just 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting from the field. He gathered only three assists while he coughed up five turnovers.

Thursday saw Knight turn to (Austin) Daye, and several other of his Pistons teammates. While Knight led all scorers in the game with 19 points in Detroit's 93-79 win over the Boston Celtics, it was his floor leadership and distribution that made waves. Knight dished out a cool 14 assists, which was five more than the entire Celtics team had combined.

Knight is quickly becoming one of the bright young stars in the game, and his ability to bounce back from a tough contest the day before shows his toughness and resilience. The former UK point guard has always shown the ability to score, often times at will, but if he can continue to find his teammates and rack up assists in the manner in which he did Thursday, it won't be long before he is making all-star teams on a consistent basis.

Enes Kanter

Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter has improved in each of his first four games in the NBA Summer League. You can see it in his confidence, his attitude and his skill. He becomes more and more comfortable by the day showing why he was a top talent in the 2011 NBA Draft despite not playing a single minute of college basketball. 

Kanter continues to build his stamina and is beginning to be one of the leaders on the court. He played 28:32 in Wednesday's 79-75 win over the Orlando Magic in which Kanter was quite instrumental. He chipped in 12 points from the post and poached 13 rebounds for his first double-double of the summer league. After a slow start, Kanter has been rolling.

Though his teammate Alec Burks continues to fill up the scoring column and perhaps overshadow Kanter, he's continued to be solid and do his job. In Utah's next game against the Indiana Pacers, Kanter posted a similar effort with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 87-81 win to push them to a 3-1 start in summer league play. Kanter's been very active in the low post and has worked hard to get position on defense to help gain possession for the Jazz. Kanter will see his minutes go up considerably if he can continue to post double-doubles on a nightly basis.

DeAndre Liggins

After a frustrating performance against Kanter's Jazz in Wednesday's game, Orlando Magic guard DeAndre Liggins bounced back with a strong effort on Thursday. In a 79-75 loss to Utah, Liggins didn't register a single point or assist and played just under 13 minutes. 

Liggins was out for redemption on Thursday, and he got it in Orlando's 77-75 double-overtime victory. After not scoring a point the game before, Liggins went 4 for 5 from the field to notch 11 points, four assists and four rebounds. While he has been lauded for his defensive ability and effort, his best opportunity to see the floor is if he can prove to be an offensive threat in the NBA. If he shows an ability to defend and make the open look, Liggins could see a fair share of playing time come the 2012-13 season. 

The Orlando Pro League gets started early as the Las Vegas league kicks off with NBA's Summer League marathon on NBA TV. Game play begins with Kanter's Utah Jazz taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8 a.m. in Orlando and winds up with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's Charlotte Bobcats taking on the Sacramento Kings. 

To catch all the NBA Summer League action, NBATV will show all 60 games as well as offering Summer League broadband for $14.99.

We'll have notes and highlights from the summer league here on Cat Scratches for the next two weeks, so stay tuned.

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