MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–After missing last season with a knee injury, Brandon Knapper is back and ready to suit up for West Virginia.
However, it didn’t come without another obstacle.
Over the summer, Knapper was diagnosed with a blood clot, sidelining him yet again.
‘The positive is he was allowed to work out,” Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins said. “He just wasn’t allowed to play. (The doctors) were more concerned with contact with him than coming in and spending time (working out), so I don’t think it was as bad as it could have been. If he was totally shut down I think it would have been really hard on him.”
Finally, the redshirt freshman is ready to get out on the court.
“Sitting out the game I love, I had to find myself mentally,” he said. “Physically, I knew I could go out there and play, but mentally I had to find myself and stay positive.”
When you love the game, nothing pains you more than not being able to perform. However, Knapper knew it was all a part of the process.
“It was very frustrating,” he said. “God has plans for me and I just had to stay positive and stay in the gym.”
But the time away from the game was beneficial to the 6-foot, 180-pound guard. It helped him grow as a person and an athlete.
Knapper learned a lot in that one season from Carter that he hopes will be beneficial to him this season.
“He plays hard. He’s been telling me all the time that’s what Huggs loves – ‘give it everything you’ve got every time you step on the court,'” he said. “On the defensive side; he basically told me to stay in front of my man and don’t try and reach. It was tough hearing him say that, because he gets a lot of steals but that’s what he’s good at.”
In fact, Knapper has a little bit of the same grit that Carter had inside of him.
“That’s why he recruited me because of how tough I was,” he said “A lot of people didn’t see that when I was coming out of high school because I scored the ball a lot, but I always had that gritty, want-to-punish-the-defender mentality.”
And that was a trait Knapper picked up from his grandfather.
“He’s a real military guy, and he’s always telling me to do this and do that and have a killer instinct every time I step out on the court,” he said. “That’s what I try to do every time I get out there.”
Getting out there on the court for the Mountaineers is an honor for Knapper. His journey just took a little longer to get there.
“I’m going to be thankful and blessed to step on the court and play for the state of West Virginia,” he said. “I’ve been waiting so long just to put a jersey on this year. It’s going to be unbelievable.”