Behind The Music: Starting Five
by Brett Rowe
Brandon Knight has a secret. A secret that could keep him from gaining the type of following that made John Wall and Demarcus Cousins the instant NBA Superstars they will most assuredly become on June 24th. A secret so repugnant, the entire state of Florida has been keeping it hidden for five years. Today, against my better judgment, I will explore young Mr. Knight’s past and unleash a truth that may just change the tune of the entire 2010 season.
Sure, we know about Brandon’s accolades. His 2009 & 2010 Gatorade Player of the year awards, which required him to finish a “01 Prime”, “02 Preform”, and “03 Recover” in less than sixty seconds. There was also his selection to the 2010 McDonald’s All-American team, where Brandon had to finish five McGangbangs in one sitting.
And one can’t forget his impressive knowledge of The Bard’s collective works including The Taming of The Shrew: The Karen Sypher Story. Fairly impressive, right? That’s what I thought too until I discovered his biggest accomplishment to date. Brandon Knight was once one of the members of the Fort Lauderdale based Boy Band Starting Five.
Starting Five began interestingly enough, as a “Liquid Dream” of Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind such mega successful groups as NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and O-Town. Pearlman envisioned the band as a urban version of his already tried and true formula; this time blending Hip Hop, Pop and Hard Rock ala Limp Bizkit and Puddle of Mudd. While scanning the country for unsigned talent, Pearlman came across a group of five young men who would fit the profile of a group of street smart kids with hearts of platinum.
First, there was the “Heartthrob”, taken on by the soon to be star of 2006’s High School Musical, Zac Efron. Next, Pearlman sought out the “Young” one who was originally meant to be the member girls would find cute and zany. This spot was awarded to 9-year-old Bobb’e J. Thompson, who unfortunately became the instigator of much of the bands infighting.
Then, there was the “Sincere” one who would be giving the loveable creeper smile to the throngs of older woman in the crowd. Jack McBrayer was enlisted for this member spot, but was released from the group once they realized he had originally lied about his age, claiming he was 15 years old.
To round out the group, they needed an “Older Brother” type that would give the group guidance. Pearlman sought out a big name and was able to pull in Jaleel White for the key position. Finally, and this is where it gets interesting, the group needed the “Athlete” of the group, originally described as someone who “Had the voice of Michael McCary , and the ability to dunk on a 20 foot goal.” Obviously, Brandon was the top choice for this specific necessity.
The band quickly made a name for itself during their 2005 Fort Lauderdale Hot Topic/Spencer’s Tour. What began as a beautiful partnership between true artists, quickly dovetailed into a cesspool of greed, petty jealousy and multiple Sweet Factory overdoses. It was during this tour that Starting Five began performing their two lead singles, “Take It To The Hole” and “Your Girl Knows Why My Shorts Are So Long”. The two songs had very little to do with basketball, and delved into subject matter not exactly appropriate for Starting Five’s teenage fan base. Thompson was especially frustrated when he was asked by Pearlman not to rhyme the lyrics “full court press” and “hand up that sundress” during one of their first shows. Of course, he did it anyway.
A number of outraged mothers began complaining that their daughters were not prepared for the content of their music and threatened to sue the record company and Pearlman. It got so bad that during one show, fans began throwing items up on stage at each of the members. Unfortunately for the group, it was Free Orange Julius day at the Galleria Mall. This embarrassing moment sent an early blow to the young group that couldn’t be withstood.
Soon after this incident, Efron went on to film the HSM films, Thomspon found fame in Role Models, White was left wondering when the Family Matters reunion would take place and McBrayer was left creeping out mall patrons as a Hot Dog On A Stick employee. All that was left of our group was Brandon. He had worked so hard to perfect his Boyz II Men bass voice that he had all but forgotten his true passion for basketball. For Brandon, it was time to move back onto the real court and try to leave the world of Pop Superstardom behind. He went about the state dominating entire teams, all the while opposing fans taunted him with lyrics from Starting Five’s two songs.
At this point Brandon knew he had to do something about the legacy of Starting Five, or he would risk being heckled for it forever. So, in 2005 Brandon made a promise to the state of Florida. He would promise to commit to play for Billy Donavon and the Florida Gators, if the entire state would keep Starting Five’s history under wraps. It was all working out so well until John Calipari became the head coach of The University of Kentucky. Once he began wooing Brandon, he knew he could no longer keep his commitment to Florida.
Brandon Knight is not entirely proud of his days in Starting Five and the subsequent release of their only album “One on One”. But the kid just wants to play basketball, and play it well at a school like UK. Brandon isn’t afraid of his past but he does hope to hear more “On, On U Of K” chants and less about Starting Five’s never released third single, “Peach Basket”.
Is Brandon Knight’s 4.3 GPA Legit?
In the wake of the New York Times story questioning the legitimacy of Eric Bledsoe’s high school grades, Paul Finebaum of the Alabama-Press Register made the following statement:
“Does anyone at UK care about anything other than winning? Does anyone at UK want Cal to recruit future Rhodes Scholars or future lottery picks?
Well, Paul, we actually care about both at UK. Athletic programs typically try to recruit athletes who can develop into playing at the next level and give their team the best chance of winning. The entire idea of awarding basketball scholarships is based on athletic ability to play the game of basketball, while academic scholarships are reserved for students with a proven ability to excel in the classroom. But in the case of Brandon Knight, a future lottery pick with a 4.3 GPA at Pine Crest High School, UK gets the best of both worlds.
Shortly after Knight first signed with the Cats, his 4.3 GPA was made well known to fans of the Big Blue Nation. At the same time, many Louisville fans that I know were questioning the type of coursework Knight took as well as the quality of education at the high school that he attended, much like Pete Thamel’s recent New York Times story that consisted of nothing but speculation and assumptions. Some critics that I know even falsely stated that Knight’s 4.3 GPA was on a 5.0 scale, when in reality he took college level AP Courses that raised his GPA above 4 on a 4.0 scale. He will actually have enough college credits this fall to almost be considered a sophomore academically at UK.
Fabian Lyon of the Miami Herald was quoted as saying, “He is a student-athlete in every sense of the word,” Lyon said. “That 4.3 GPA he has at Pine Crest is the real deal. No one’s giving him any breaks at that school. He wants to be the best player and the best student. Well, leave it up to a contestant of the 2010 KSR Blogger contest to pull a Pete Thamel and conduct his own investigation of the legitimacy of Brandon Knight’s grades. I will not break federal law, however, and illegally attain Knight’s transcript. I will simply do some research on the quality of education at Pine Crest High School to see if Knight’s GPA is legitimate or not.
When I first clicked on the website of the K-12 school in Fort Lauderdale, FL, I was amazed that the site was more detailed than a lot of colleges and universities. I immediately noticed on the top of the page that they were now “accepting applications” for the 2010-2011 school year. The investigative reporter inside of me then prompted me to look into these so called “applications” by clicking on the admissions tab on the homepage. I quickly noticed that the admission process to Pine Crest school was longer and more thorough than the process I personally went through to be admitted into Graduate School. Admission to Pine Crest requires an application as well as a $100 non-refundable application fee, a student questionnaire, family survey, and class visits as a part of the evaluation process from their admissions committee. On top of that, students must post an exceptional score on the SSAT (the Secondary School Admissions Test).
Based on these admission standards alone, I think it’s safe to say that Brandon Knight’s 4.3 GPA was well earned and very much deserved. To post those grades, at THIS school is nothing short of phenomenal and the Big Blue Nation is very lucky to have an extremely hard working and academically gifted future NBA lottery pick.
This isn’t my first time being on KSR. It all started on September 19, 2009 with this. It was an accomplishment getting on KSR, and some of the jokes on the comment section were actually pretty funny. And those of you (still) laughing at my eyebrows, just be happy for me that my eyebrows aren’t like this. The cool thing about that day was that not only did UK beat Louisville in football, that was also the weekend that Brandon Knight came to visit UK and I got to say what’s up to him. He seemed shocked that so many people already knew him and were chanting his name during the game. After seeing how happy he was at the game, I knew that he was going to come to UK.
No other incoming freshman has more weight on his shoulders than Brandon Knight. If the point guard before you was John Wall, obviously you will feel pressured to succeed. Brandon Knight is different than the last couple of point guards that Coach Cal had. He may not be as athletic or explosive as John Wall but he can flat out score. He can shoot the 3, has a mid-range game, and he can shoot off the dribble. He can also get to the basket consistently and is quick with the ball. The thing about Knight that makes him such a hard defender is that if you are guarding him too closely, he will drive right by you and get a lay-up or pass the ball up for an easy shot. If you stay off of him, he can just shoot over you, no matter how far he is from the basket.
Knight averaged 31.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists as a junior and 31.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists during his senior season and won Gatorade National player of the year during both years. That’s impressive considering that only two other players have done that: LeBron James and Greg Oden. What’s even more remarkable is his performance off the court. Knight had a cumulative GPA of 4.28 in high school and took demanding classes such as AP Calculus and other advanced placement courses. He has said that his favorite subject is math and in a recent interview about his goals in college, he said that “I’m looking to get my degree, not sure what I’m going to get it in. I’m not going to school just for basketball. My goal is to do well in school and work hard while I’m there.”
One thing that the media is saying about Knight is that he isn’t a true point guard and is more of a two guard. This may be true but with the considerable amount of talent already on the team and the freshman coming in, he will get a chance to show-case his passing abilities. Brandon Knight may not be as quick or athletic as John Wall, but with his tremendous basketball IQ (and his IQ in general) and scoring ability, he will be a top 15 player in the NCAA this season. Although he is most likely a one-and-done, I believe he will be successful on the court and academically during his freshman year in college.
Brandon Knight: Meet Lexington’s New Most Eligible Bachelor
This man should probably be your boyfriend, your daughter’s boyfriend, your sister’s boyfriend, or maybe all three. He’ll be wearing the number 12. His phone number was unrecoverable at press time. Sorry.
A recent study indicates that the physical feature the most women notice first is a man’s smile. That means that about 40 percent of the KSR-reading females who had already seen the above picture have already fallen for Brandon Knight. But for the rest of you, here’s a bunch of reasons you should love him — whether that means looking to chat him up on campus or just looking to correct your Louisville acquaintances who think no John Wall means they can finally sleep at night. No, they can’t. As Knight might recite for us, the Louisville illusion is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” Peyton Siva, come get some.
The Basics: That heat wave you enjoyed this past week was thanks to Lexington’s most eligible bachelor torch being passed from Matt Jones to Brandon Knight. Matt, you’re running out of time. At 6’3”, 175, and absolutely cut, Knight is the guy the girl of your man’s dreams dreams about. You can call him Brandon; others have called him BK, B-Knight, or Keezy. I may call him the Dark Knight, and yes, your dad can call him Knight Rider. He held a 4.3 GPA through his high school years, served as a youth group leader at the New Art Covenant Church, and volunteered hundreds of hours coaching at youth basketball camps. If you were Rick Reilly, you might call him the Mother Teresa of men’s basketball.
As for his game, he averaged 31.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.5 steals for Pine Crest School of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He’s noted for his near ambidextrous ball-handling skills, high motor, sweet shooting touch, tenacious defense, and ability to finish around the rim. Some used to question whether he was more of a two guard, but those who watched the Nike Hoops Summit saw a cool, selfless floor general who looked like the purest point guard in his class. Some have questioned his athletic ability, but some point to high-flying dunks like this one and remind you that you don’t need a Wall vertical to be a Wall-level threat. Especially when you led your high school team to two state championships and are the only guy not named LeBron James or Greg Oden to be a two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Quirks: Brandon was a long-time wearer of some wicked long corn rows. A note for the sake of my fellow Kentuckians: the term “Predator hair” is preferable to “corn rolls,” and slightly less embarrassing. He’s now gone to the more classic look you can see above, in what his mother said was a move to make him “more marketable.” This proves that Knight is scary mature — girls like that, right? — but also frustrates my efforts to create a Samson-inspired mythology for Knight before he sets foot on the court.
His English Honors teacher lauds his “perfect articulation in reading Shakespeare,” and he loves math because it’s “absolute,” proving that he’s got the chops to tickle your intellectual side. But if you’re looking for a better description of Knight’s charming personality than I’ve been able to offer, his local CBS affiliate called him “a virtual pied piper on campus” — as if we needed any further proof that CBS is the Evan Daniels of scouting writing talent.
Burning Questions: I know. It’s all too good to be true. Even if you can rope a guy like this, what are the odds he’ll be truly committed to you? And can you really expect him to stick around? Lucky for you, there’s no good reason to question Knight’s commitment. All the hubbub about his signing only financial aid papers boils down to is that he and his parents, Tonya and Efrem, are as smart as that sparkling GPA would suggest. This video includes a brief look at his mom and dad, who, based on Mr. Knight’s charming half-smile, smooth voice, and grandfatherly wisdom, are more in the “huggable Momma and Poppa Patterson” mold than the “knock Boogie’s immaculate hustle after there’s no danger your son will actually have to face him again” Larry Orton mold.
As for whether he’ll stick around… well, look at it this way. As Knight might recite for you if you asked him to mix it up with a little Tennyson, “’tis better to have loved and lost / than never to have loved at all.” This is the kind of guy you want to be seen with, the guy you want to be the face of your program — the absolute real deal at the game’s most important position, a killer student, and a well-spoken and charming fella to boot. In interview after interview he says education is a top priority, but don’t be surprised to see him with a high lottery projection and a sweet shoe deal come this time next year. Sure, Knight is going to the best basketball school in the world. But as someone who’s going to the best academic school in the world, I can tell you this much: somebody offers me a million and a book deal and I’m gone. The point of going to school is to succeed — not to spend 120 hours over four years in a classroom — as success stories from Carmelo Anthony to Bill Gates have proven. And with guys from Mercer to Meeks to Wall working to finish their degrees, maybe he’ll come back someday. But if you love him, let him go.
For those of you looking to pick a blogger rather than a boyfriend (or both), Knight and I are comparable in terms of high school GPA, height, having coached youth basketball, and having taught at church. We differ in terms of attractiveness, effortless charm, impeccable physical fitness, unbelievable athletic ability, and a future involving millions of dollars and international fame. The only advantage I’ve been able to scrounge up is that I never got a B in the second grade. Ladies, take your pick.
Brandon Knight : BK2UK
What is the hardest task that any incoming freshman can take on in the 2010-11 college basketball season? Replacing John Wall on a team where most fans will be looking, and hoping, for a carbon copy of the next number one NBA draft pick. Filling the #11 jersey is a nearly impossible task considering most UK fans were ready to hang that jersey from Rupp’s rafters by the midpoint of last season. That’s one good reason for Knight’s decision to switch to #12 when he takes the floor as the new UK point guard this fall.
John Wall may be Blue Jesus, but Brandon Knight is practically a saint. He put the student in student-athlete with a 4.28 GPA at Pine Crest School, a private academy in South Florida more noted for its ability to send students to the Ivy League than the “League.” Despite winning the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award in 2009 and 2010, his teachers keep insisting on talking more about his abilities in the classroom than on the gym floor.
After his April 14 press conference, the most notable quotes were not about his point guard talents or his ability to drop it like Jodie Meeks at Thompson-Boling, but the fact that Brandon loves Shakespeare like a fat kid loves cake. Ok, so maybe they said it in a little fancier way than that, but you get the point. He’s smart, like Todd Svoboda smart, but with actual playing time. This is the guy all parents want their little girl to bring home. Even without his spot on the UK roster and almost certain NBA future, he has major potential, i.e., he is going to be able to totally afford anyone’s daughter.
Besides providing a much needed boost to the team’s GPA, his basketball numbers will likely be just as impressive. He ranks second on the list for all-time scoring for the state of Florida despite missing 19 games his junior year. He amassed over 3,500 points during his high school career. He led his high school to the state title during both his sophomore and junior years. Prior to BK’s career, Pine Crest hadn’t produced a state title since 1960’s, but at least the school can proudly brag that they filled those years of non-basketball greatness by producing a Real Housewife of New York (Bethenny Frankel) and an adult film star (Mary Carey).
If there are any comparisons to be made, it would have to be that Knight is practically the love child of John Wall and Patrick Patterson. He’s intelligent and articulate. But he can defend the ball, create shots, and score. The only negative I see coming is how many times we’re going to have to suffer through his highlight films with about 5,324 renditions of that awful, overplayed Black Eyed Peas song as the background music. You won’t be able to get the words “tonight’s gonna be a good, good night” out of your head until way after we have hung banner number 8 next spring. But, this kid will be worth it. Welcome to the Big Blue Nation, Brandon Knight.
Final Verdict: Knight is probably the easiest freshman to profile because of the incredible amount of info available on him, but probably also carries the most burden because of that same reason. Overall, a pretty good group. My favorite line was from Brett regarding the boy band’s single being called “Your Girl Knows Why My Shorts Are So Long”, but I think Adam and Teresa had the best entries. Adam’s was the best blend of creativity and writing and I loved Teresa’s casual writing style and wittiness. If this was American Idol, I’d put John and Rahul in my bottom two simply because I don’t think either of you took any real risks. However, John took a shot at thinking outside the box and tried to find something new, so he will survive another week. Sorry, Rahul. I hope the next picture I see of you isn’t you frowning with Marquis Teague and Michael Gilchrist.
1. Adam Horn
2. Teresa Eversole
3. Brett Rowe
4. John Wilmhoff
5. Rahul Kalathia