Natalie Knight will be living her dream next year when she plays for the women’s basketball team at the University of Kansas.
“That has been a dream of mine since I was little,” Knight said. “Three uncles Danny Knight, Kelly Knight and Mark Knight played basketball for the Jayhawks. They (Jayhawks) have a great atmosphere and I wanted to be part of it.”
Knight signed in the early signing period in November. But before she sets sail for Lawrence and the Jayhawks she has to finish her senior season at Olathe South.
Ant it has been quite a high school career.
Knight, a 5-6 guard, helped pace the Falcons to a 24-1 record and the Class 6A state championship as a junior, averaging 17 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.7 steals per game. She entered the season with a career 51 percent field goal shooting and 81 percent at the free throw line.
She is the only returning starter for the defending state champions.
“It was great,” she said of winning state. “It was very emotional. We (team) were close on and off the court. This had been our goal.”
This year her duties have changed.
“I am counted on more to score,” she said. “I need to run the floor and stay level headed and not get frustrated.”
The Falcons entered January undefeated with Knight averaging 14 points, while hitting 65 percent of her shots.
Knight said her strength is “getting my teammates involved, creating chances for other players.”
“I am more interested in assists than points,” she said.
Falcons coach Steve Ingram said Knight makes “the players around her better.”
“She doesn’t look to score almost to a fault,” Ingram said.
She made quite an impression last year as the only junior starter for the state champions. She was first team All-Sunflower League and a first team All-State pick. She was the Metro Player of the Year for the Kansas City Star and captured the DiRenna Award as the top player in the greater Kansas City area.
“We have to play together,” Knight said to repeat as state champions. “We have to learn from each other and learn from our mistakes. We have a lot of athleticism and have to use it right.”
Ingram continues to be impressed by Knight’s skills.
“I can’t tell you how many times in big games, when we needed her to deliver, she did,” he said. “She seems to always play great in big games.
“A great player is someone who can make the other players around her better. And I think that is one of Natalie’s best qualities and why I can say without hesitation, she is a great player.”
Knight’s mother Tinita put her in dance when she was four.
“But I didn’t like it,” she said. “My dad (James) wanted me to try basketball. I started in basketball at seven.”
She played with basketball traveling teams at nine. She led Chisholm Trail to back-to-back junior high championships as an eighth and ninth grader. She played three games on Olathe High varsity as a freshman. She was a varsity starter as a sophomore.
She said Ingram and summer coaches Joe Erskine and Gary Brown of the Mo-Kan Alodia Eclipse, have been her biggest basketball influences.
Knight possesses a 3.4 grade-point average and is still considering what to study in college. She is thinking about journalism.
Instead of writing headlines, however, she will likely be a headliner at Lawrence.
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