By Gene Phelps
BLUE MOUNTAIN – Dontae Knox has already accomplished one goal – being accepted to the University of Notre Dame for the 2014-15 school year.
Next up, Blue Mountain’s senior point guard plans to be a part of the school’s varsity athletics program in some capacity, starting with the men’s basketball team.
“I’m going to tryouts for the team,” he said. “If I don’t make it, I’d like to become a part of the team in some way … as a manager, a videographer.”
Knox applied for academic scholarships at a number of schools, including Dartmouth and Vanderbilt, but he was sold on Notre Dame after attending a 10-day summit on Sciences, Ethics and Responsibilities on the campus in South Bend, Ind.
“The campus was great,” he said. “I liked the gothic architecture, the Grotto. Everybody there had the Notre Dame spirit.
“They want you to find your own view, your own perspective. They want you to come up with your own questions and find an answer for them.”
Knox, a Southern Baptist, said the Catholic university appealed to his strong Christian beliefs.
“Dontae loves the Lord and seeks his guidance,” Blue Mountain coach David Mason said. “He’s willing to be a servant-leader. He doesn’t expect anything at all for what he does. The Bible says the first shall be last.”
On the basketball court, Knox runs the point for two of Northeast Mississippi’s top shooting guards – Ismael Ruedas and Jacob Girley.
“I like giving assists and they like scoring,” Knox said, then smiled.
Mason occasionally gets upset with Knox for being so unselfish.
“We played a game this season and he gave up three of four opportunities. I thought his lack of selfishness was hurting us,” the coach said.
At practice the next day, Knox was tasked with shooting 10 3-pointers. For every miss, his teammates had to run. “He didn’t like it at all,” Mason said.
Knox, who connected on 7-of-10, laughed when he recalled the session. “I learned the hard way,” he said. “It killed me on the inside, but my teammates encouraged me.”
Knox plans to major in math, then maybe go into the medical field. If that doesn’t work, he wants to teach and coach. He has a headstart on the coaching profession, Mason says.
“Dontae thinks like a coach when he’s on the floor,” he said. “He’s a leader.”