I was doing radio with Matt Jones (Matt Jones!?!?) when news of Knowles playing a pickup game with current Louisville players and subsequently being offered a scholarship broke. Katharine Cruise was an intern at the station and she texted Terrence Williams (no big deal) to get his take on the situation. T-Will's response said that Preston was "tough as hell" and "definitely a Louisville player."
I bought in.
The first extensive card Chronicle post dedicated to Knowles was this interview with his high school coach.
Card Chronicle: Recruiting has evolved into a multi-year process with most kids, but Louisville's recruitment of Preston lasted an astonishingly short two weeks. Because of this, some Cardinal fans might not know as much about him as they'd like. So if you would, tell us a little bit about the kind of player Louisville is getting in Preston Knowles.
Scott Humphrey: A lock down defender who will be able to guard in the Big East from day 1. He loves the defensive end and embraces the challenge of guarding the other team's best player. Offensively he shoots a high percentage from the perimeter (50 %) from the field this year including 42% from 3 line. Very unselfish. He was called upon to shoot more often than he would have liked this year, but we needed that to win. Can get his shot off at any time by creating on his own.
CC: The vast majority of recruiting seems to take place in the summer during the camps and the AAU tournaments. Preston did not participate in AAU basketball, and because of that he was a bit of a mystery to the recruiting services. What was the reason behind Preston not playing AAU ball in the summer?
SH: Preston has always been a team oriented guy. We played a lot in the summer. He continued to work on his game with a passion like no player I have coached. That combined with the fact that he did not have the exposure at a young age to the "AAU circles." The talent has always been there, but it took awhile for the college scene to grasp it. I will say this...Not one time did a college get involved in his recruitment and then slow down. Once they saw him play and met the person, they continued to recruit and at an intense level.
CC: Since Louisville started really pursuing Preston a couple of weeks ago, there have been several instances where people have publicly questioned his character. Since you would know better than most, what type of person is Preston off the court, and how coachable was he for you?
SH: The reality. We live in a small town in Kentucky with our own newspaper. Every time I disciplined him it was front page news. I have been here for four years as the coach and Preston has started for four years. There have been times when he needed a kick in the rear like most high school kids do, but in Preston's case it was front page news every time. I was harder on him than most because I realized his potential early on, but he always bounced back on a positive note. He was a good teammate, and every coach would love to coach him because he brings it everyday and plays with passion. As I said in the previous answer, everyone who got involved intensified the recruiting after meeting him. His biggest fans in our community are the teachers that he currently has. Zero trouble with the law. Zero trouble with drugs or alcohol.
CC: Louisville offered Knowles after his visit this weekend, in part because of the way he played in a pick-up game where he reportedly shut down Edgar Sosa and drew high praise from the rest of the team. What did Preston say to you about the visit, the game, and his overall impression of U of L?
SH: He enjoyed the visit at every level. He connected with the players and the coaches, and obviously he was impressed by the facilities and the tradition Louisville has to offer. As far as his play, that is no surprise. He knew he was being "tested" and the bigger the stage the better he performs.
CC: Louisville is returning most of its players from a team that finished the season ranked No. 20 in '06-'07. Has Preston spoken to you at all about what he expects from a playing time standpoint next season, and have you given him any advice on how to react if he doesn't come in and play right away?
SH: Preston is a team guy and Card fans will soon find that out. That being said he will fight for playing time right away. He will not back down from the challenge.
CC: Lastly, it's impossible for anyone outside of Miss Cleo to predict the future, but in your mind how do you see the next four years playing out for Preston Knowles?
SH: Being prepared by an excellent University and coaching staff to enter the world as a man.
I got my first actual look at PK six months later during the Red/White scrimmage, and came away impressed.
We may have gotten a steal here folks. I was impressed with the way Knowles ran the offense, but even more impressed with the way he played defense. He is an extremely skilled and intense on-ball defender, and I can't imagine what the battles between him and Sosa are like in practice.
He got the start at point for the white team, presumably because Sosa's left ankle is still a little gimpy, and after coming out a bit tentative he really started to assert himself near the end of the first half. He was advertised as a streaky shooter coming in, and I think everyone in attendance was witness to the accuracy of his prep scouting report. He missed badly on his first three attempts, but after hitting two in a row in the last ten minutes of regulation he was totally locked in.
Playing time is obviously going to be hard to come by with a sophomore and junior sitting at one and two on the depth chart, but I think Knowles is going to play more minutes than any of us would have envisioned two months ago.
The reality that this guy is now just 24 hours away from playing his final home game as a Cardinal is one I'm not quite ready to face, although it's definitely starting to set in.
Don't let them see you cry...don't ever let them see you cry.