MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins always preaches that his players need to get in the gym if they want to be successful. For athletes like Jevon Carter, who is enjoying a good sophomore season in the NBA, the dedication and hard work paid off.
Now, Brandon Knapper is in that mindset and hoping to establish himself as a presence for the Mountaineers.
“I’ve been staying in the gym,” he said. “I got confidence in myself. The coaches got confidence in me and are telling me what I need to do and what I don’t need to do. I just go out there and try and do anything to get the win.”
Against Akron, Knapper scored nine points and had one assist but his overall performance appears to be on the rise.
WVU needs the Charleston native to be a consistent threat this season and that is what he is striving to do.
“The game is slowing down for me a lot compared to last year,” he said. “Last year was my first year playing, I tried to speed up a little bit but this year the game is a lot slower. I’m just going out there and playing my position.”
However, the 6-foot, 185-pound guard still has room for improvement.
“I need to work on guarding the ball, my off-ball defense,” he said. “I feel like that’s what I need to work on the most. I feel like me guarding the ball is like guarding the quarterback. I’m all about defense. I can always improve that by talking to my teammates, communicating, getting to the right spot and stuff like that.”
Having Knapper play at a level he is capable of is essential for the Mountaineers
“We need Knapp to step up every time he’s on the floor because sometimes it’s not going to be going for Jordan or whoever else is playing point guard,” senior guard Jermaine Haley said. “I think Knapp does a really good job of getting us into offense and playing defense but mainly getting us into offense, which is what we need, someone to get the ball up the floor fast and get us into offense quick so teams’ defenses can’t get back and get matched up. When Knapp plays like that it makes it a lot easier for the offensive guys.”
Despite being a redshirt sophomore, Knapper brings energy and leadership to WVU.
“He just leads on the floor, not only by example,” freshman Miles “Deuce” McBride said. “He opens his mouth and tells guys where to go and how to do things.”
The time Knapper is putting in is benefiting both the South Charleston High School graduate and his teammates.
“He’s put lot of work in. He’s been playing well in practice,” senior guard Chase Harler said. “He’s been making shots in practice. Everything starts in practice. He’s been having a great practice. He’s been listening better. He knows he can score and we are trying to get him better opportunities this year to do that.”
Knapper’s teammates believe his future is bright.
“He’s been here so he’s not just bringing energy but he’s bringing leadership at the same time,” McBride said. “I just try to listen to the older guys that have been through it. I think he’s going to keep playing well. He’s always in the gym. I think he’s going to have a great year.”
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS