Bucks guard Brandon Knight at Urban Day School 12th Street Campus. Photo courtesy Milwaukee Bucks
It’s now been more than a year since the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Brandon Knight in a trade with the Detroit Pistons. Knight emerged as one of the few bright spots in the Bucks’ dreadful 2013-14 season, leading the team in points (17.9 per game) and assists (4.9 per game). He also led the team in shot attempts by a wide margin despite missing 10 games due to injury.
Now, in this first full summer as a Milwaukee Buck, the 22-year-old guard has been active in the local community. This week, he hosted free basketball camps at the Northside YMCA (1350 W. North Ave.) and at the Urban Day School – 12th Street Campus (3782 N. 11th St.) for 7-to-14-year-olds. Hosting youth basketball camps is something Knight has done each summer in his home state of Florida since he’s been in the NBA, and this is the first camp he’s done in Milwaukee.
“We do a lot of community events,” said Efrem Knight, Brandon’s brother, who runs Knight Management Group, managing Brandon Knight and Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez. “We did a back to school backpack bash recently. Brandon just gave away roughly 600 stuffed bags. He does everything he can for the community.”
We caught up with Knight at the end of Tuesday’s camp, after he took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with his campers (see the video here).
This is your first year doing these camps in the city of Milwaukee. How has the experience been?
It’s been cool -- good turnout, lot of kids coming out. It’s just a great opportunity just to meet the kids and spend time with them, talk to them, and teach them a couple lessons not just about basketball, but about living as well.
Are there any fun stories from this year’s camp?
From this year’s camp, I wouldn’t say one particular one, but just, meeting certain kids, experiences I had with them, it’s great.
So this is your first full summer in Milwaukee. Obviously, there have been a few changes within the organization. What’s the biggest difference between this year and last year?
I mean, of course, a lot of things have changed. And for me to really know what happened, time will tell. But a lot of things are changing. I know the most important thing is that we want to be a competitive team. We want to get back to winning 40, 50-plus games a year, and being a good team.
There’s been some excitement with the team drafting Jabari Parker. He’s a one-and-done guy; you were a one-and-done guy. Have you offered him any advice in making that jump to the NBA?
Not yet. It’s still early. The only thing I really told him was to keep working. Keep working how you’ve been working.
What was the biggest thing you learned in that first year?
Just to be yourself. Don’t try to do anything you’re not, don’t try to be anything you’re not. Just be yourself.
You’ve been out here a little bit more this year with the Bucks marketing side. You were at the Lottery, you’ve been out at State Fair, you’re at this camp today. What type of message does that send to you as a player that you’re part of these kinds of things with the franchise?
I don’t know what kind of message that sends to everybody else, but for me, it’s just something I like to do. I like to be in the community. I like to reach kids. I try to better the place that I’m at and (make) an impact in the community.
You also have a new coach this year. What’s your experience been like with the new coach?
He’s been good so far. I haven’t had a whole lot of talking with him, but he loves to win. When you have a coach that loves to win, it makes everything easier for everybody.
Is there anything in particular you’ve been working on with your game?
My decision-making. All facets, not just one thing, but numerous things.
Have you spent a lot of time with your teammates at the Cousins Center?
Yeah. We work out here and there. We spend time in other places as well. Just building that relationship in different areas, not just at the Cousins Center, but off the court as well.
What’s next for you before the season gets going?
Nothing. Working out, continuing to work out. That’s really it.