Local high school athlete ‘hoops’ his way to U of M scholarship

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Amarr Knox entered his junior year at Central High with hoop dreams.

But he didn’t know where this path would take him, especially with SCS postponing sports because of COVID-19.

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“I was kind of nervous that we weren’t gonna have a season,” Knox said. “I really wanted to play.”

So in order to maximize his opportunities for a college scholarship, Knox transferred to Bartlett.

Panthers coach Dion Real didn’t know the type of player he was getting.

“We played them last year and they blitzed us,” Real said. “So I went back and I looked at it. He was the main reason they blitzed us. I think he had 30 on us last year. So I’m thinking man he’s pretty good but I did not realize. Then once you get him in here, we’re all like he’s good.”

Soon, more in the Memphis hoops community, including a famous coach, would come to this revelation.

Knox faced the nation’s top point guard JD Davison in the Iverson Classic in December. Knox, with no stars to his name, scored 38 points against the 5-star senior recruit headed to Alabama.

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What happened next is quite the story.

Knox said he was headed to Subway the next day for a pre-game meal when he got a call.

“Came back the next day,” Knox said. “Got a phone call from Penny. He offered me to go their school. I was very excited.”

The 6-3 guard said he doesn’t know if he would have ever been on Tigers coach Penny Hardaway’s radar if he didn’t transfer.

“I probably wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity,” he said. “Coach Real is a good coach. He got us in big tournaments. That was a huge tournament for all the players to come out and show they talent.”

Real and Knox said this story serves as inspiration for high school athletes wondering if the pandemic will limit opportunities to showcase their talents.

“That’s what we talk about all the time,” Real said. “You don’t ever know who is in the gym. You don’t ever know whose watching. Always be at your best. You never ever know.”

Knox said it’s all about staying ready for that one big moment.

“Stay in the gym,” he said. “Keep working out. Keep trying to better your game and when your opportunity come, take advantage of it.”