North Texas Daily

Player development specialist Carlos Knox making an immediate impact for women’s basketball

Player development specialist Carlos Knox making an immediate impact for women’s basketball

North Texas assistant coach Carlos Knox watching his players go through drills during practice.

Player development specialist Carlos Knox making an immediate impact for women’s basketball
January 24
12:57 2018

As the North Texas Women’s basketball team prepares to head to the airport for a road trip, standing alone in the gym with a couple stragglers watching is assistant coach Carlos Knox.

Positioned with his feet shoulder width apart, dressed in a black Nike jogging suit, he prepares to do something he knows all too well. Knox takes one dribble forward, steps inside the 3-point arch and extends his arms at a 45-degree angle while flicking his wrist as the ball releases from the palm of his hands.

Shot after shot continues to fall as Knox reminisces of his days of playing college basketball at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Long before he added the title coach in front of his name, Knox was setting records in college. The three-time All-American and two-time NCAA scoring champion was named NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 1998. Following his last game as a senior, he became etched into Jaguars’ history by having his number 34 jersey retired.

He was later inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2004.

“My mentality was to be dominant at all times,” Knox said. “It was to dominate every aspect. [I was the] first guy in the gym, last guy to leave.”

People join sports for various reasons, some are seeking that sense of camaraderie or looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Knox viewed basketball as an opportunity to allow him to escape the reality of his childhood.

The Dayton, Ohio native saw all the good and bad the city had to offer. Quickly, he made the choice to take the road less traveled to pursue his dreams of playing professional basketball one day.

“I was one of those guys who stayed outside within the parks and recreation center,” Knox said. “I came from [the] inner city. It was more of me falling in love with the game to keep me away from falling into the craziness going on around me.”

That coveted dream of playing professionally came to fruition shortly after he tied the bow on his collegiate career. Once the 1998-99 NBA lockout ended, the Indiana Pacers signed him as an undrafted free agent. Despite his time with the team only spanning a few months, he remains at peace with their decision to move on.

Knox’s unwillingness to give up his dreams led him to pursue basketball opportunities elsewhere. He went on to spend the next eight years traveling the world as a man on a mission, looking to continue to play the game that brought him so much joy.

After battling injuries, he decided to retire — but he did not walk away from basketball completely. Knox worked his way up the coaching ranks and received his first big break with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. They brought him on as an assistant coach based on a recommendation from Tamika Catchings.

Knox played a huge role in the development of the four-time gold medalist and 10-time WNBA All-Star. They worked together from the moment she graduated from Tennessee until the day she retired as a member of the Indiana Fever.

“I feel like it’s taken me a long time to transition into the player I am,” Catchings said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star. “Some of it has been just working with him and having that killer mentality. Every single thing that you do, it’s always like, ‘I don’t care if you rest in between, but when you do it, do it hard, because it has to translate from what we do behind the scenes to what we’re going to do on the court.'”

North Texas assistant coach Carlos Knox speaks to junior point guard Brittany Smith (3) about offensive concepts during practice.

While working with the Fever, Knox realized it was time to reach more athletes. He developed Indy Knox Prom AM, an intensive summer league basketball program to help athletes transition from college to professional basketball. Most of the days were spent training, while the nights were filled with scrimmages against premier competition.

George Hill, Zach Randolph, Lance Stephenson and several other NBA players competed in this league. From 2009 to 2016, the Knox Pro AM was one of the most recognizable summer leagues across the country.

But Knox suspended its operations to comply with NCAA regulations when he decided to take a full-time coaching job with a mutual friend in Texas.

One of Knox’s proudest accomplishments was helping develop Catchings into a premiere player. Before she earned the reputation as a fierce competitor at the professional level, she played high school basketball alongside North Texas women’s basketball coach Jalie Mitchell at Duncanville High school.

North Texas was in the market for a new assistant coach in the months leading up to this season. After evaluating her staff, Mitchell realized the biggest need for improvement was player development. Mitchell wanted a coach who could strengthen her player’s weaknesses.

While attending an Indiana Fevers’ game, Catchings introduced Mitchell to Knox. After speaking at length with the two, Mitchell was convinced she found the missing piece to the puzzle. Hiring Knox became official during the offseason, and Mitchell said he has been as good as advertised.

“He’s great with talking to the [players], helping them understand how to get better and ways they can improve,” Mitchell said. “Whether its practice or games that can just make them more effective and efficient.”

Junior guard Grace Goodhart describes Knox as the calm in the storm. His presence has instilled confidence in her and the rest of the team. Goodhart has improved her free throw percentage from 72 percent to 80 percent and has increased her field goal percentage by 11 percent under Knox.

“He’s really someone we lean on and we go to for advice,” Goodhart said. “He’s there for us. He’s kind of like a second dad and has been really good for the team.”

In a sport where development is often judged by numbers, two things stats do not show are Knox’s love for the game of basketball and his determination to see others succeed. If his impact is not clear in the team’s improvement this season, ask anybody on the North Texas women’s basketball team about Carlos Knox — he is making a difference.

“I’m very passionate about the development of players,” Knox said. “I like to instill the mentality and work ethic I had as a player into my players, just to see where they can come and see where they can get.”

Featured Image: North Texas assistant coach Carlos Knox watching his players go through drills during practice. Trevon McWilliams

About Author

Jordan James

Jordan James

Sports writer covering Mean Green Sports and more

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