The Evolving Game & Rising Stardom Of William & Mary's Nathan Knight

Nathan Knight is gaining plenty of on-the-job training this college basketball season. 

William & Mary’s center and Oscar Robertson Award watch list selection hosts a regular webseries, In the Locker, interviewing his Tribe teammates. Knight’s quite good, too, exuding a natural presence that suggests he has a future in media. 

Such a career move won’t be for several more years, though — not with the promise of a pro basketball future, evident whenever the senior big man takes the court. 

Knight posted 21 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in 2018-19, one of the best individual stat lines in the nation. He tested the NBA draft scene in the spring, taking advantage of a beneficial new rule the NCAA and NBA enacted that allows players to gain a clearer sense of where they stand before exhausting their collegiate eligibility. 

The rule’s been a boon for players and college programs alike. Knight and William & Mary offer a prime example. Knight returned this season armed with the knowledge of where he can better his game for his NBA prospects. 

“The biggest thing for me is probably defensively,” he said, a perhaps surprising point for a player who has averaged right in the neighborhood for two blocks per game throughout his college tenure. “Guarding one-through-five on the [ball-screen] switch, and then developing a more perimeter-oriented game to go with my ability to score down low.” 

The NBA, and elite-level basketball as a whole, has experienced an evolution in the past decade with a more spread-out style. The days of a center posting up on the low block exclusively are gone, and Knight is building his offensive repertoire to reflect that. 

He’s shooting a career-best 64.6 percent from inside the 3-point arc, and attempting more from long range than at any point before with three per game. 

Knight evolving his own game boosts his own individual stock to be sure, but also is at the forefront of the Tribe’s outstanding team offense through nine games.

William & Mary boasts the nation’s No. 23-ranked effective field-goal percentage and No. 38 3-point shooting average. 

Numbers are important to the backstory of Knight’s return, in more ways than his stat line. After basketball, and maybe while he’s carving out a niche in media, he will have opportunities in the world of commerce.

Knight said one of his primary reasons for withdrawing from the 2019 NBA draft was to finish his business analytics degree. 

With Knight’s return, William & Mary — one of the four original NCAA members yet to make an NCAA Tournament appearance — readies for the Colonial Athletic Association gauntlet built around one of the best bigs in college basketball. 

Crashing the Dance remains Tribe basketball’s white whale, a goal now more than 80 years in the making. Upon being introduced as head coach in the spring, Dane Fischer addressed the topic too big to ignore. 

Knight said the Tribe tries “not to get too far ahead of” themselves, thinking about March when three months of regular season remain ahead of them. But the prospect of making 

“There’s a lot of improvements that need to be. It’s that whole championship process,” he said. “Then when March comes, we’ll be ready.” 

If one big man was not enough of a pillar around to construct a run at March, the Tribe have two. Seven-foot Wisconsin transfer Andy Van Vliet has been an effective wingman to Knight through the first month of the campaign, averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting a shade below 40 percent from 3-point range. 

In an era when basketball rotations focus less on height and more on versatility, William & Mary throws an impressive combination of size at opponents without sacrificing perimeter scoring. Van Vliet’s perimeter-oriented offense works in concert with Knight’s dominant play inside. 

The dual-bigs look is so unique,that Knight — typically the one asking questions that get the other end of a conversation thinking on In the Locker — deliberated for a good, long while when coming up with the right Twin Tower comparison. 

“[Domantas] Sabonis and Myles Turner,” he said. “Andy actually loves Sabonis. He has to do everything like Sabonis.”

You could do a lot worse than the Indiana Pacers duo, two of the NBA’s most underrated young stars and catalysts of a franchise pursuing its third consecutive playoff appearance. 

And a college student could do a whole lot worse with their experience than Knight has. If the university experience is about preparing for a career beyond school, he’ll have options — in business, in media and on the hardwood. 

I'll Be Quirky: Pride Begin Homestand After Back-To-Back Nail Biters

Hofstra returned to the Thursday/Saturday routine in wildly entertaining and chaotic fashion over the weekend as the Pride scored the tie-breaking basket with fewer than 10 seconds left Thursday night to edge UNC Wilmington, 63-61, and gave up the tie-breaking hoop with fewer than 10 seconds left Saturday in a 69-67 loss to Charleston.

North Carolina A&T Looks To Get Back On Track In Unpredictable MEAC

Competition for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference crown in 2020 promises to be especially tight and unpredictable. Just look at North Carolina A&T.

UNCW Looks To Right Sinking Ship With Hofstra Up Next

The first meeting of the season between Hofstra and UNC Wilmington promised to be interesting when the CAA preseason poll was released on Oct. 9 even though Hofstra was picked first and UNC Wilmington ninth. 

The Big Picture: Tribe Stakes Claim To Pole Position

Condensed Replay: Charleston-W&M

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

A head-to-head clash of the lone remaining undefeated teams in Colonial Athletic Association play lived up to its billing. Now, William & Mary sits atop the conference standings early into the campaign. 

I'll Be Quirky: Eli Pemberton Plays The Hero

Hofstra played just one game last week, but it was a doozy as Eli Pemberton hit a layup with half a second left to cap an instant classic Thursday night and lift the Pride to a 74-72 win over Northeastern. 

Charleston, William & Mary Set To Battle For Midseason League Supremacy

Riller: Hoops 'Let's Me Be Free'

For Dane Fischer and Earl Grant, Saturday’s clash of the two hottest teams in the CAA is just another game, one whose importance, they will insist, is no more enticing nor carrying any greater potential impact than any of the other 17 regular season games during the two-month marathon that is conference regular season play.

A March Atmosphere In January As Hofstra Visits Northeastern

College sports typically don’t drive the engine or discussion in the pro sports-obsessed markets of Boston and New York, which means the players and fans of the Northeastern and Hofstra men’s basketball teams probably aren’t going to spend today and tonight jawing at one another and arguing over the color of the sky or the direction in which the sun rises and sets.

Grant Riller, Nathan Knight Named To Lute Olsen Award Watch List

Riller: Hoops 'Let's Me Be Free'

College of Charleston senior guard Grant Riller and William & Mary senior center Nathan Knight were named to the Lute Olsen Award Midseason Watch List, announced on Tuesday. The Lute Olson Award is presented annually to the nation's top Division I player.

William & Mary Look To Stay Perfect vs UNCW

Plenty out-of-the-ordinary circumstances shape Thursday’s Colonial Athletic Association matchup between UNC Wilmington and William & Mary. 

I'll Be Quirky: Two Comebacks & A Career Night


It feels like a decade has passed since we gathered for an I’ll Be Quirky. Hofstra had an interesting first week of the CAA season as the Pride closed out the 2010s by sweeping a road trip from James Madison and Towson before it started the 2020s by splitting a homestand with William & Mary and Elon in decidedly extreme fashion.