The BYU men’s basketball program has a lot to offer prospective transfers: A winning tradition, a limited amount of distractions, a spacious practice facility, the chance to utilize a talented coaching staff to elevate their game and a recent record of successful transfers, to name a few.
Seneca Knight was enticed by all of that, but the clincher was, of all things, Deer Creek Reservoir.
Knight is a 6-foot-7 guard who has had stops at San Jose State and LSU. He entered the transfer portal earlier this month and BYU put on the full court press during his campus visit, including a 20-minute trip up Provo Canyon to Deer Creek.
Knight detailed his whole visit while a guest on Ben Criddle’s ESPN 960 radio show on Monday.
“I saw the water and all of the activities you can do there, and that got me,” Knight said. “That closed it. I promise you, that did it. We drove around and took pictures. I saw people in the water and how much fun they were having. It was the perfect vibe.
“Coach Nick (Robinson) told me you can rent jet skis. You can go canoeing or water rafting. Those were all the things I’ve always wanted to try. I’m open to new experiences.”
It will be a new experience for Knight to live and play in Provo since he announced his commitment on Monday. After growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana and playing basketball in San Jose and Baton Rouge, the city boy said he’s ready for some country life.
“It’s a new atmosphere,” Knight said. “It’s more than just a city atmosphere.”
Knight’s parents accompanied him to Provo on the recruiting trip, which included a lot of food as well as a tour of campus and the surrounding area.
Knight said the visit began after breakfast at the Broadcast Building last Friday and included a golf cart tour of campus. At the BYU Bookstore, Knight said a Cougar basketball fan made an introduction and welcomed him to Provo.
“To be able to get that on my visit was nice,” Knight said.
The group then took Knight to the Marriott Center Annex to watch the team practice and play pickup. Knight said he got to sit down and talk to the whole team.
What followed was a hike to Y Mountain, where Knight could take in a view of the entire valley.
“I got to overlook the whole city,” Knight said. “I fell in love with that.”
After dinner with the coaching staff and Alex Barcello, Te’Jon Lucas and Caleb Lohner, the group went bowling. That activity was cut short when someone in a nearby lane threw a ball that hit the ceiling and set off the sprinklers.
Knight ended up at Lucas’ apartment playing video games and talking with his prospective teammates.
The next day was breakfast with Pope, his wife, the coaching staff and Knight’s parents.
“It was a genuine conversation with Coach Pope,” Knight said. “I was asking him about if I come here, what would it be like. After that conversation it (his decision) was a no-brainer.”
Lucas has been in Provo for three weeks after committing to the Cougars out of the transfer portal and offered his advice.
“Caleb and Alex, they’ve been here longer,” Knight said. “Alex was a transfer and I asked him about everything Coach Pope did to develop his game and how well he progressed coming from Arizona. Coach Pope basically changed Alex’s whole career around. It’s kind of astonishing.”
Knight has only been playing organized basketball for about six years. Pope’s main discussion was about how he could transform Knight’s game.
“The primary pitch was development,” Knight said. “That was the main reason I was in the portal. Once Coach Pope gave me that pitch, I knew it was what I was looking for. I just said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Knight averaged 17 points per game during his sophomore season at San Jose State and earned third team All-MWC honors. He played in only four games during the following season as the Spartans were forced to relocate to Arizona due to the pandemic. Knight entered the transfer portal and committed to LSU in January but eventually realized the Tigers weren’t the right fit.
“The LSU commitment was rushed,” Knight admitted. “We didn’t get to do a lot of research on it. I made the decision to be closer to home because of COVID concerns. If something happened I would be right near my home. Once things settled in a little bit, LSU just wasn’t the place I wanted to be. I have my goals and it just didn’t feel like the right situation.”
Knight said he plans to arrive in Provo in the next couple of weeks to join his new teammates.
“It feels great,” he said. “The fans have been supporting me a lot and showing me a lot of love throughout this whole thing. It makes me excited to be able to get out there and to work ten times as hard so I can give them a show whenever I step out on the court.
“The offense BYU runs, I feel like I can help facilitate and create my own shots as well. On defense, I’ll be using my length and athleticism to my benefit. The whole roster is great and they can all shoot it. I want to get downhill and kick it out to guys where I trust that person to hit the shot. I love how excited they are to play and get better. That’s probably the thing I’m most eager about because I want to be around guys that work.”