Tamika Catchings just made the game-winning shot in the WNBA All-Star game earlier this month, and George Hill helped the Pacers to the number seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs this past spring. What do these two basketball stars have in common? They were both trained by a former college superstar named Carlos Knox. He was the 1998 D-2 national POY, a two-time scoring champ, and a three-time All-American at IUPUI who scored more than 30 points during his college career. After a pro career overseas he coached at his alma mater, in the WNBA, and also the CBA. He suffered a serious knee injury during college, so now he also trains players to overcome injuries and strengthen their skill set. CHD’s Jon Teitel got to chat with Carlos about his sensational scoring and training triumphs.
You suffered a knee injury during your junior year at IUPUI: were you worried that you were never going to be able as good as you had previously been? I was young and did not understand the medical world. Some people called it a career-ending injury so I was not sure how I would handle it, but I worked hard the following summer with the right trainers to get my rehab together.
After your junior year you declared early for the NBA draft but later changed your mind: why did you declare early, and why did you withdraw your name? I declared early because that was my hottest year and I had been able to do some damage at camps where I held my own with stars like Vince Carter/Allen Iverson. I was talked out of leaving school by my head coach, who wanted me to come back and continue to build the program. I do not know if I would do it the same way again.
As a senior in 1998 you were named Division II national POY: what did it mean to you to win such an outstanding individual honor? Basketball paved the way for my entire life, so it magnified the fact that I had worked so hard to get to that point.
You were a three-time All-American and a two-time scoring champion: how were you able to dominate throughout your college career? Hard work and persistence. Scoring always turned me on and it allowed me to make my mark as an All-American. Nobody back then was putting up those types of numbers. My number one objective was getting to the NBA and in my opinion nobody in college worked as hard as I did on my craft. My teammates allowed me to be that type of player.
You finished your career with a career scoring average of 30.1 PPG: do you consider yourself one of the greatest scorers of your era? Absolutely! It was one of my long-term goals to become one of the elite all-around players in the history of Indiana…humbly speaking.
After graduation you spent the preseason with the Pacers, then played for several years in Germany/Venezuela: what did you learn from these experiences, and how did they compare to college basketball? My experience with the Pacers set the bar very high. I was fortunate to play with guys like Reggie Miller/Jalen Rose who showed me a different level of basketball. Once I went overseas it was a drop-off in talent so it was easier for me. We needed a translator because they did not speak English and some of the rules were different (such as no defensive three-second call), so it is difficult to compare the two.
You began your coaching career at your alma mater in 2001, and were an assistant coach on the 2003 team that made the first-ever tourney appearance in school history (a 31-PT loss to Kentucky): why did you choose to go into coaching, and what are your memories of the 2003 tourney? I just had the itch to continue to play basketball. However, I reinjured my knee so I tried my hand at coaching. I was not forced into coaching: it was just something that I wanted to try. Our guys really learned from that game and came back the next season with a different mentality and worked a lot harder.
You currently work with NBA/WNBA players to develop their skills and rehabilitate their injuries: how did you get into that field, and how is business? Business is great! I got into the field by training George Hill, who I helped recruit to IUPUI and mentor before he made it to the NBA. My second client was Tamika Catchings, who I helped understand the game as she transitioned from a PF to a wing player. I got a lot of business via word-of-mouth.
One of the players you have worked with the longest is fellow IUPUI alum Hill: what do you see as his biggest strength, and how far has he progressed from college to now? George is an excellent leader. He is a great at picking up on things: you do not have to tell him things more than once. He has crazy athleticism but does not get the chance to show it a lot. He is excellent at running pick and rolls and putting pressure on the defense at all times. Back in college he was more of a scorer without much strategy but now he gets easier baskets.
You spend your free time working with the Indiana Fever (WNBA) as an assistant coach and with the Pittsburg Explosion (CBA) as a head coach: how do you find time to do all of this coaching, and how does the WNBA differ from the CBA? A lot of my work/training is during the summer months but I have more time during the rest of the year to focus on coaching. The men are stronger/faster and play above the rim so you have to be a lot more strategic when it comes to coaching women. I enjoy coaching men and women equally: I just like to teach and develop players to help them get better.