Auburn, Ala.--Looking for help in the frontcourt for the 2008-2009 season, Coach Jeff Lebo
went the junior college route by signing big men Johnnie Lett
, Francis Aihe
and Brendon Knox
to provide immediate size and strength for the Tigers. While he has only been one exhibbition game and one regular season game, the 6-10, 220 Knox has shown he's not afraid to mix it up with the big boys in the paint.
A transfer from Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina, Knox came in as the lesser known of the three new big men, but if his early outings are an indication the junior could be a big addition to the Auburn program. Playing just 13 minutes in a 75-60 win over Missouri State, Knox scored 10 points and pulled down three rebounds. He also added a blocked shot. Lebo notes he likes what he's seen out of his new big guy.
"We're excited about the progress he's made," Lebo says. "He's getting better every single day. The biggest thing for him was learning the pace of the game, the demands of being accountable and dependable and reliable for every practice. He's really done better for us.
"He provides us with some shot blocking and some size in there and he can really run the floor," Lebo points out. "We've been pleased with his progress. What's funny with him is he looks even more athletic in games than he does in practice."
The transition to big-time basketball has been a tough one according to Knox. While it has gone smoothly on the court, he says that getting used to the amount of work you need to put in if you want to be successful in the SEC takes some time.
"At first it was pretty rough," Knox says. "Now I'm starting to get used to things. I had to make a lot of changes to the way I play. The toughest part has been the mental part.
"In junior college we didn't study the game near as much," he adds. "When I got here I didn't know it was going to be like that. It's good though."
Seeing his first action in a real game with the Tigers, Knox was active in his limited time and connected on three of five shots from the floor and four of six from the free throw line. He notes just having some success was a big positive for him heading into the season.
"Last week was really big," Knox says. "I did what I had to do to help the team. I played hard and gave them some good minutes. I could have done a little bit more though."
Knox and the newcomers in the paint have a big advantage because of the presence of senior Korvotney Barber down low. Scoring 22 points and pulling down five rebounds in the opener, Barber is expected to be one of the better forwards in the SEC this season. Knox says that Barber's knowledge of the game and his willingness to share is very helpful to him.
"It's very big," Knox says. "I'm trying to follow his lead. Sometimes he'll pull me to the side and give me little pointers on what to do. He's been very helpful."
Knox and the Tigers get back to action Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they play host to the Mercer Bears at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. A team that outrebounded Alabama by 18 in a win Sunday night, Mercer's strength in the paint could mean more action for Knox in game two. Lebo says as long as Knox continues to progress as he's done to this point then that's okay by him.
"He's just learning so much," Lebo says. "We're putting so much in. He's learning how to listen and have attention to detail in everything we do. A lot of time for guys coming to Division I, and he's not alone in this, the amount of preparation and the attention to detail shocks them a little bit. He's starting to learn and understand that. He's got a good basketball IQ and has been progressing nicely."
Junior college transfer Brendon Knox has been an early surprise for the Auburn Tigers on the hardwood.