‘Chicken’ Knowles looking to lead the Cougars this season

With the collegiate basketball season set to begin in a matter of weeks, University of Houston senior forward Danrad ‘Chicken’ Knowles is preparing to make his final season with the Cougars a memorable one. Two seasons ago, Knowles was one of three Bahamian players, along with L.J. Rose and Mikhail McClean on Houston’s roster.

Now, the 6-foot-10 New Providence native is the last remaining out of the bunch, and he has nothing but high expectations for this year’s squad.

“The only goal I have is to win the conference championship and win the conference overall, really,” he said on his final go-round. “I’ve been here for four years. It’s the grand finale. We just got to do it.”

Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson said that Knowles and the rest of the seniors would play a pivotal role in Houston’s success this season. He said that it’s up to them to help acclimate the newcomers to the Cougar culture.

“Culture will always be determined by your people,” Sampson said. “That’s why you always have to have the right people. Our culture in this program right now is being established.

“It is up to the seniors to drive a culture that breeds respect and positive feedback. They will determine what is written on the index cards.”

Knowles is looking to work his way back into the starting lineup this season after being taken out midway through last season. Because of the decrease in minutes, he fell to just six points and 3.7 rebounds per game after averaging 10 points and six rebounds as a sophomore.

His best showing last season was a 20-point, nine-rebound performance in a 105-98 overtime win over LSU and the No.1 pick in this year’s NBA draft Ben Simmons.

The Cougars will begin their season on November 11 against Morgan State. They finished last season with a 22-8 win/loss record. Despite the fact the Cougars were solid throughout the regular season, they suffered a disappointing 81-62 loss to Georgia Tech in the first round of the NIT tournament.

Coming out of high school, Knowles was ranked 13th at his position nationally, 10th in the region and seventh in the state of Texas. Knowles was ranked 51st in the ESPN top 100 with a scout’s grade of 94.