Perserverance: /per•se•ver•ance/ (non) – persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success
His last official game at UofL may have ended in the worst of ways….a season ending foot injury that forced him to sit and watch as his teammates endured a gut wrenching first round NCAA Tournament loss to Morehead State. But, as a player and a person, Preston Knowles painted an awesome picture in regards to his career at Louisville. After defying the odds, he scratched and clawed his way to the top while proving any doubters wrong. Preston Knowles persevered.
Knowles always personified the traits that many of us as fans adore…..tenacity, focus, drive and determination. Evolving from a kid dealing with a tough upbringing to a star- studded professional basketball player, PK is a true success story.
Read along as I go in depth with Preston about his playing days at UofL, the experiences that have made him into the man he is today and more. This is Issue 4 of the Return to the Flock series: Preston Knowles
Ok, so tell me a little bit about your recruitment out of high school. If I recall, you signed late with UofL. How did that all come about?
PK: I really wasn’t recruited by UofL until around the time of the state tourney in March my senior year. Before that I was almost set on going to VCU, but Anthony Grant couldn’t commit to being there for 4 years because of rumors of him leaving for the Florida job, which he ended up at Alabama university. I was recruited by major D-1 teams from my junior summer going into my senior season mainly because of Charles Givens. I only played one year of AAU ball my whole life and from just that one year under Coach GIvens everything took off for the most part. Other D1 schools that recruited me were Kansas State, LSU, Xavier, Georgia, Florida, Miss State and others.
I will add that competing against Darius Miller played a big part in me getting more exposure as I was able to showcase my talents. Playing so well in the Lexington Catholic tournament was also big for me.
Bottom line, if you saw me play you’d remember me, good or bad lol.
While at UofL you sort of played like a guy who had a chip on his shoulder. Is that a result of your personality or perhaps how you might’ve been overlooked when coming out of high school?
PK: I’d have to say my personality and who I grew up with and looked up to. It was the survival of the fittest and only the strong survive mentality in the community and in sports that are the main contributors to who I am today. I was always around older people, so you had to behave and act a certain way, but if it wasn’t for those people, I wouldn’t have made it in Louisville. It’s because of the older guys who wanted me to do well and not bad. They didn’t want me going down the same roads they did. People from the outside looking in didn’t know that. So, I definitely would have to say that big homes and OGs are the main factors in my early decision-making stages.
That chip you speak of was also placed there because of the fact that my cousin, Cedtrick Tate, never got a chance to show the world how great of a player he was and I always wanted to fill his spot per se. If you’re reading this Cedtrick, well NOW I GOT IT LOL!
Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey (my HS coach and his wife), Larry Allison, and Robbie Graham (both HS asst coaches) played a major part in my development just in a different way. They went through hell with me but they were always there. The chip on my shoulder is always there though, even today, I just channel it in different ways now.
Being that you played high school ball in Winchester (Clark County), did you ever pull for UK growing up?
(editor’s note: I love the bluntness in this answer. Sometimes less is more)
As an alumnus and fan, I have a lot of great memories of you as a player. What were three or four of your biggest highlights from your UofL career?
PK: That’s hard to say, but what first comes to mind is Edgar Sosa’s game winner against UK, Earl Clark’s dunk on Luke Harangody in Freedom Hall, and celebrating the Big East tourney title in Madison Square Garden.
One game that many UofL fans still talk about today is the “Miracle on Main”....the huge come from behind win at home over Marquette your senior season. Take me back through that game especially the last play.
PK: Oh, I was super confident on that last play. I kept telling the bench that if I touched the ball on that possession, ITS OVER!!! Fortunately, Kyle (Kuric) was open because when I jumped in the air I saw him at the last second - haha. The words “SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT” were playing in my head before I made the infamous pass to Kyle who made the shot.
To this day it still bothers me seeing Dejuan Wheat finish his UofL career injured and unable to perform. I feel the same about you. Explain the emotions of getting injured.
PK: It’s hard to explain this situation. It went from “let’s get ready to train and workout for NBA teams” to “I might not ever play again.” I can’t tell you everything, but let’s just say this, my mentality pushed me through the ordeal and gave me a chance to keep playing.
My first outing in the NBA G League resulted in my foot being fully swollen all the while having two pins in it wearing ankle brace. But, I was still trying to play because I had a family to feed. By May it finally worked itself out. I loved the whole experience though and I began playing overseas after that.
Any superstitions when you played at UofL or professionally?
PK: During the introductions at UofL I had to go give Vinny Tatum a hug before each game haha! It actually started out as a joke but then over time it became official. I love that guy!
As a professional, I just make sure my seat is the furthest away from everything so I have more space. I hate sitting in the middle, lol.
Are there any specific former UofL teammates you still keep in contact with?
PK: Yes, my brother Reggie Delk, Earl Clark, Peyton Siva, Stephan Van Treese. Stephan is a silly ass. I keep up with a few more here and there but those are the ones I connect with the most.
As of 2011 (UofL Media Guide) you stated that the two best players you ever competed against were Rajon Rondo and JR Smith. Is that still the case?
PK: Of course, they are still some of the best I have played against but at this point in my career I couldn’t tell who I think it could be.
So what type of person is Rick Pitino? What type of coach?
PK: From my perspective in dealing with him as a person, he’s smooth, laid back, funny….just a regular guy.
In terms of a coach, words cannot really describe him – you have to experience it for yourself that’s all I can say. I’m glad I had the experience to be coached by him because I needed his guidance more so off the court than on it. I’ll forever be grateful to him.
In your opinion, did Coach Pitino deserve to be fired?
PK: Based on everything I know, my perspective is that no, he should not have been fired at UofL.
Update the fan base on what your professional basketball career has looked like since you graduated. Where have you played and who are some of the better players you’ve gone head to head with?
PK: It’s been a roller coaster ride! That’s the best way to describe it!
There are a lot of highs and lows when playing ball overseas but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m on my second passport, and I have played in a nice amount of countries. I was voted as an All-star MVP one year in Israel. I was able to set a new record on steals in another country. Altogether, I’ve played in Italy, Greece, Croatia, Qatar, Thailand, Cyprus, and Israel. I have visited and seen more countries than just those.
In terms of players I’ve gone head to head with, that’s a lot: Pey Pey (Peyton Siva), Jerry Smith, Tyshawn Taylor, Austin Daye, OJ Mayo, Tyler Lamb, Stanley Pringle, Ronald Moore, Craig Smith, Toney Easley, Erick McCollum, Rayvonte Rice and the list goes on!
Before I get too far away from the previous media guide question I gotta know….is Dwyane Wade still your favorite player and are the Denver Nuggets still your favorite team?
PK: Yes, Dwayne Wade but also Chris Paul. My favorite team might have to Houston now but that’s only recent. Besides Houston, it was always Miami on the side because of Wade.
So, what are you doing to keep busy during this pandemic quarantine? Have you watched any good shows or movies?
PK: I’m training from home, taking care of and helping kids with homework, cleaning, reading, writing, and trying to stay safe. I could go on all day with movies and shows but I mainly enjoy Blacklist, Money Heist, and older movies like Harlem Nights.
Have you started a family yet? Do you have any kids?
PK: Yes, I do have kids . My daughter, Miyah Knowles, is 10 years old and my son, Cameron Knowles, is 7 (he turns 8 in July). Miyah plays soccer, runs cross country, practices the violin, is on the debate team and most definitely plays basketball. She might hoop for UofL day lol. Cameron is a clone of the Cookie Monster when it comes to candy and he loves to play soccer and basketball. He actually just started ice hockey not long ago and he loves it! He really likes sports but he also might become a scientist, space cadet, you name it!
Can UofL fans ever expect to see you back in the Ville down the road?
PK: Yes of course! I come back occasionally I’m just not around often. Ever since my homegirl, Germina Cruz, passed away I’ve stayed away from Louisville. I need to go visit her and pay my respect.
In closing, how do you hope UofL fans remember you as a player?
PK: Someone that never gave up and gave it his all 100% of the time. A player with no fakeness or flaws. A guy who played with raw emotion. I am what I am. My only regret is not winning something for the Ville my senior year. I would have experienced my first professional championship this year, but the coronavirus cut the season short.
(Editor’s note: He may not have won a ‘ship at UofL, but he definitely won the fans hearts)