Six years, three teams, one unending love affair with basketball.
It hasn’t always been easy for Shereff Knight, but the Michigan City grad has bounced back time and again, and with his vast array of experiences and his status as starting point guard and one of only four seniors on the men’s basketball roster for Purdue Northwest, he is a natural choice for team leader.
“I definitely can look back at it and say I never, ever stopped believing that I would play college basketball,” Knight said. “I love the game that much, and all I ever wanted to do was play college basketball.”
As practice ends, Knight always screams, “In the middle!” It’s the sign for the team to gather at midcourt to huddle and talk about practice, upcoming opponents, itineraries, etc.
While he’s the guy yelling about the middle, basketball is central to his story even though he’s been out of the sport, on its fringes and in the middle at different times the past few years.
Knight graduated from Michigan City in 2011 and then played his true freshman season at Indiana Northwest. He made it 12 games and showed some immense promise, averaging 17.3 points and 5.2 assists per game, including a pair of 25-point games and a 30-point performance. However, academics got in the way and he and IUN parted ways.
In 2012 he was working security at Blue Chip Casino and taking classes at Ivy Tech to get back in good standing. He was working out at Michigan City with coach John Boyd to stay in shape.
Matt Bush was an assistant for Boyd that season and noticed Knight’s skills. When Bush took the job as coach at Purdue North Central, Knight was one of his first recruits.
As a sophomore for PNC, Knight averaged a team-best 17.4 points per game in 16 games. After the 2013-14 season, he decided to sit another season to focus on classes before returning as a junior in 2015-16 and playing the full 30 games and averaging 10.2 points while going for five-plus assists in 14 games.
Now with the merger, he’s the lone holdover from last season’s PNC team, which gives him an advantage as Bush is still the coach.
“Being the only guy from PNC, I know exactly what Coach Bush wants, so I’m the guy who can tell people what we’re going to do and how we do it,” Knight said. “Instead of Coach having to tell them, I already know and tell them myself.”
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Bush said Knight’s maturation process brings pride. In a rough early season in which more than half of the 17 men on the roster are injured or otherwise out, Bush needs to be able to put trust in Knight and has been vindicated in doing so.
“He’s not only an excellent passer who understands the game, but he scores for us as well,” Bush said. “He’s somebody we can count on to get ball to the right people at the right time.”
Knight, a 6-foot-1 guard, leads the Pride in assists and steals and was third in scoring entering Wednesday night’s game.
He is on pace to graduate with a degree in communication next December, a diploma that might have eluded him without his favorite sport keeping him resilient.
“I love playing basketball. I love watching basketball,” Knight said. “Everything about basketball, I love.”
Curington doubling up for Pumas: Lake Central grad Rolanda Curington has stepped up her game for St. Joe's.
After averaging four points and 2.5 rebounds as a freshman and just 2.9 points and 1.8 rebounds as a sophomore, she has at least doubled all of those numbers as a junior. Through seven games, including three starts, Curington is third on the team in scoring at 8.1 ppg and third in rebounding at 5.0 per contest. She also leads the team in free-throw percentage among those with more than two attempts with an 88.2 percent clip.
VU women’s bowling adds two: The Valparaiso women’s bowling team received commitments from a pair of Illinois seniors Wednesday, including a state champion.
Aurora native Samantha Perez (Oswego East) and Arlington Heights native Jessica Soskich (Buffalo Grove) will join the Crusaders next season.
Soskich won state last season despite it being just her third year of bowling. She averaged 229 for 12 games.
Perez has averaged 206 at the last two state finals and has a bevy of youth titles to her credit.