WKU loses 81-76 to UTSA in overtime

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers head coach Rick Stansbury shouts at his players during WKU's 81-76 loss to UTSA on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at E. A. Diddle Arena. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)

Rick Stansbury’s first commitment to the 2020 class is coming from Kentucky.

Collins High School senior guard Dayvion McKnight announced his commitment to Western Kentucky on Thursday, making him the first to verbally commit to the Hilltoppers in the Class of 2020.

McKnight, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard from Shelbyville, chose the Hilltoppers over 12 other reported offers, pointing out Stansbury’s commitment to him for well over a year.

“It’s like a second home to me,” McKnight told the Daily News in a phone interview. “I’ve built a great relationship with the coaches in this process and I felt like it was a good time to make it official.”{blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”}{p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”}110% Committed #GOTOPS #GETREADY‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/7Br2jQMblp– dayvionmcknight (@dayvionnn20) August 8, 2019{/blockquote} {script charset=”utf-8” type=”text/javascript” src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”}{/script}

McKnight isn’t rated by recruiting services Rivals or 247Sports, but the Hilltoppers have targeted the guard since Collins attended a team camp over a year ago.

McKnight’s offers picked up over the spring and summer playing for the M.A.T.T.S Mustangs Under Armour AAU team. His offers ranged from Northwestern, South Florida, Saint Louis, Middle Tennessee, Murray State, Ball State, Southern Illinois, Kent State and others.

“It was Western at first and then AAU started and other offers started coming in,” McKnight said. “I was talking to other coaches a whole lot, but these last few weeks Western has really been there. Over time, (Stansbury) and I have had a good relationship. Great vibes between us. I just feel like our relationship has gotten stronger over time.”

As a junior at Collins, McKnight averaged 17 points and 10.4 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 33.3 percent on 3-pointers and 79 percent at the free-throw line. McKnight scored 23 points and had seven rebounds when the Titans played against Warren Central in February in the Wes Strader Schoolboy Classic.

McKnight said he’s been to several WKU basketball games – mostly with his Collins team – beyond his official and unofficial recruiting visits.

“I feel like they really believed in me and I will have a strong impact as a freshman to be great,” McKnight said. “I think I’ve become a better leader on the court over time. … I think I’ve worked to improve on that.”

Collins coach Chris Gaither called McKnight the toughest player he’s ever coached and said he carries every intangible a college coach would want.

“He’s always been a leader in the way he plays,” Gaither told the Daily News in a phone interview. “He’ll get hit in the middle of a rebounding drill and go out and win it without changing any facial expressions. A lot of people fall in love with his overall character. He doesn’t change emotions in games. There’s no ups and downs for him. He just stays solid and competes to win every possession.

“He’s a rare kid. You’re going to find just as many kids that have the talent and skills, but the toughness factor, you’re not going to find many like him, especially at the point guard position.”

If WKU’s current roster holds when McKnight joins the team for the 2020-21 season, he would be one of five players from Kentucky joining Taveion Hollingsworth (Lexington), Carson Williams (Owenton), Jackson Harlan (Albany) and Isaiah Cozart (Richmond).

“I love where I live and I felt like staying home was a great decision,” McKnight said. “My family and friends can now come watch me play at home games.”

– Follow WKU athletics beat writer Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Covering the Western Kentucky University athletics beat for the Bowling Green Daily News.

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