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What LSU transfer Seneca Knight provides to BYU basketball

After a memorable recruiting visit last weekend, Knight announced Monday morning that he will be joining BYU’s program this upcoming season

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Seneca Knight plays against New Mexico. Knight is transferring to BYU.

San Jose State’s Seneca Knight plays against New Mexico during the second half of a Mountain West Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. New Mexico defeated San Jose State 79-66.

Isaac Brekken, AP

The first time the BYU basketball coaching staff recruited Seneca Knight — last January — he was looking to transfer from San Jose State amid the pandemic and move closer to his home in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Knight enrolled at Louisiana State, where he spent last season but did not play.

In June, the 6-foot-7, 215-pound junior decided to transfer again. And the Cougar coaches reached out to him again. 

After a memorable recruiting visit last weekend, Knight announced Monday morning that he will be joining BYU’s program this upcoming season.

“Once I was able to go on a visit out there, I fell in love with the place, I fell in love with the guys,” Knight said. 

In Provo, he enjoyed getting acquainted with future teammates like Alex Barcello, Te’Jon Lucas and Caleb Lohner

“And the fans. I can’t lie,” he said. “The fans played a role in it, too. I definitely have been receiving support from BYU fans (on social media) even before I announced I was going there. They make me super excited to be able to play in front of them.”

With that, coach Mark Pope appears to have finalized his roster for the 2021-22 season as Knight received the program’s final scholarship. 

Knight provides the Cougars with a missing piece on their roster — an athletic, dynamic and versatile wing player that can score and rebound from either the two or three spot. 

His strengths include an ability to come off of ball screens and a knack for drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. 

“I feel like I bring experience and a competitive nature as well. I’m able to score and create for myself and also for others,” Knight said. “Whatever coach Pope says he needs me to do, going out there and executing it. He’s a great coach and I’m joining a great team. I just want to do my part to help make this team even better.”

Because he’s transferred twice, Knight will be applying for an NCAA waiver in order to play this season. But he’s confident that the waiver will be granted. 

Starring at San Jose State

Coming out of high school in Louisiana, Knight had just one scholarship offer — from San Jose State.

So he traveled far from home to begin his college career. As a sophomore in 2019-20, Knight averaged 17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He shot 48% from the field and earned third team All-Mountain West conference honors.

Knight averaged 20.1 points per game in Mountain West games, third-best in the league. He poured in a career-high 37 points at Colorado State, tied for the fourth-highest single game total in SJSU history. Three times he scored at least 30 points, all on the road. 

In three years with the Spartans, Knight averaged 11.5 points in 51 games played.

But due to the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding it, he decided to leave. 

“I loved San Jose State,” Knight said. “The only reason I left was because of the COVID restrictions in California.”

Of his decision to go to LSU, Knight said, “I rushed the decision. I felt like LSU wasn’t the right situation for me and for my overall development. I chose to go to LSU as a hasty decision to get back home.

“It was a good experience. I was able to watch and learn. I was able to travel with the team to the NCAA Tournament,” he added. “Being able to practice and compete with them every day was also a good experience. It’s been an unorthodox year for me.”

‘It’s crazy beautiful out there’

During his most recent recruiting experience, Knight ultimately narrowed his choices down to BYU, Idaho and Georgia Southern. But he was also pursued by Minnesota and Virginia Tech. 

Arizona came on strong late but “I’m big on relationships so I was going with schools that were there from the very beginning,” Knight explained.

Knight didn’t know much about BYU before the coaches started recruiting him. Then, when he arrived in Provo for his official visit with his parents, he was impressed with what he saw, which helped solidify his decision.

“I love scenery. I didn’t expect Utah to offer that much scenery,” he said. “It’s crazy beautiful out there. I got to go to the reservoir and I got to go to the top of (Y Mountain) to look over the city of Provo. It’s amazing.”

During the trip, Knight started to form bonds with Barcello, Lucas, Lohner and others.

“I was able to get together with them on my visit,” he said. “I watched a lot of film of them and I’m excited to play with a great group of guys.”

Of Barcello, Knight said, “With Alex, I was able to talk with him about his journey after he transferred from Arizona. He trusted in coach Pope and his game has evolved. I’m super excited to play with him. He’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the nation. Who wouldn’t want to play with a guy like that, that’s able to space the floor?”

Knight also felt comfortable with the coaching staff. 

“They have great experience. Coach Pope played in the (NBA) for nine years. They all have connections,” he said. “Some of the guys on staff transferred (as players) so they were able to relate to my situation. In the short time they’ve been at BYU, they’ve been ranked in the AP poll the last two years. I trust in what they say and they really care about their players as well.”

Family ties

Knight’s father, Seneca Knight Sr., played football at Grambling State. But Seneca Jr. opted to play other sports. He tried football for a brief period, when he was 12 years old. 

“I played football but I never played a game. I played running back. I stopped; I got tired of getting hit. I’m not going to lie,” he said, laughing. “Growing up, I played basketball and soccer. Soccer I was better at. Once I got older, everything started shifting to basketball.”

His dad, of course, has had a huge influence on him.

“Bringing that competitive nature, going out there and accomplishing your goals. I trained with him a lot growing up,” Knight said. “That’s where I got most of my athleticism from ... He definitely is a major factor in my development.”

Making a run in the NCAA Tournament

Like his BYU teammates, Knight has his sights set on getting to the NCAA Tournament — and advancing. 

“That’s a major goal,” he said. “That’s probably one of the biggest goals that I have, to be able to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.”

Knight plans to arrive in Provo to begin workouts at BYU within a week or two. After not playing last season, he’s eager to get back on the floor in official games. 

“I’m healthy and rested. I feel like I was able to get better during this time off,” Knight said. “I was able to learn the game more. I’m excited to joining a great team and great coaching staff and, in my opinion, the best fans in the nation.”