From Pasadena to Philly, basketball helps student thrive

By Allie Jeter
February 7, 2012

Jeremy Knowles is a junior guard on the men's basketball team. -- Jenay Smith / Photo Editor

Athletes come and go and usually the public doesn’t get to know their stories. Sometimes all they are is a face in the spotlight. Jeremy Knowles, junior guard on the men’s basketball team, is not one of them. Basketball is not only a sport to him but a way of life. To begin to talk about Knowles is like beginning to talk about your favorite book: you don’t know where to begin. The Pasadena, Calif., native has grown up loving basketball and has always watched the greats like Michael Jordan and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

“It was the only thing on TV,” Knowles said, “so I liked it and so I learned from it.”

Dwyane Wade, a guard for the Miami Heat, is another one of Knowles’ biggest influences. But even when Knowles was learning from the greats, he was also learning more from society and its darkness.

“I was in a gang once when I was 15,” Knowles said. “But soon I figured that being in gang won’t get you anywhere, so I turned to basketball. I felt that that was the safest way.”

All throughout school, Knowles played basketball. To say Knowles lives and breathes basketball is an understatement.

“I watch a lot of sports,” Knowles said. “I watch a lot of Sports Center and ESPN.”

Cabrini wasn’t Knowles’ first pick for colleges. Knowles attended Los Medanos College, a school in his hometown, two years before attending Cabrini. He moved from California to Atlanta, Ga., to be with his other extended family and that is where he was discovered. “I was playing basketball at Central Park in Atlanta and met the assistant coach, Rob Pendino there,” Knowles said. “And then he recruited me.”

Since joining the Cavs, Knowles has led his new team to many victories and scored an astounding career-high 24 points in the game against Widener this past November. Knowles is known to his teammates as “Big Jerm” and he sees them as family.

“They probably describe me as a problem on and off the court but in a good way, though,” Knowles said. “I get along with everybody and I guess they look up to me as a big brother.”

His jersey is No. 11 and you can sometimes miss it as he hurries up and down the court.

“My coach just gave it to me,” Knowles said. “I wanted to change it to 23 but my coach said I don’t play like Michael Jordan, so he gave me number 11.”

Fran Rafferty, a friend and teammate of Knowles, has grown very fond of him since the first time they met.

“Jeremy is a great teammate and he’s great off the court as well,” Rafferty said. “Coming into this year we met Jeremy at the first open gym we had and from that point he really just gelled with our team. He’s going to come in and play as hard as he can whether it’s getting a tough basket or a big stop defensively. As a person he just really keeps the locker room fun and laid back.”

Saleem Brown, an assistant coach with the Cavaliers, also feels that Knowles is a great addition to the team.

“Jeremy has been a great asset to our team and will be a vital part and helping us make around deep in the playoffs,” Brown said. “I was excited in the summertime when he committed to Cabrini because I knew we were adding a good player and a good person to our program.”

When Knowles isn’t scoring points and making jaw-dropping moves on the basketball court, he’s in class learning more about the business aspect of life. You can also find him hanging out with his friends and girlfriend, Chelsea Cornacchia.

“Ever since I met Jeremy, he always talked about basketball and how much he loves the game,” Cornacchia said. “He is passionate and dedicated to basketball. Jeremy is a great person with an awesome personality. I am truly glad that I met him this year.”

Knowles is a very family-oriented man and talks to his family when he can.

“Right now, my family inspires me the most and my assistant coach,” Knowles said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

His family wouldn’t describe him any less.

“I can best describe Jeremy as easy going and fun to be around. People are drawn to him because of his warm personality,” Clarence Knowles, Jeremy’s uncle, said. “He’s not shy by any means and will sit down and talk to people as if he’s known them for awhile. In other words, he makes you feel at ease.”

Knowles brightens up the room with his addictive smile. First meeting him and being in the same room as him, you immediately feel at ease.

“One of the things about him that sticks out right away is his smile and laugh. His smile can light up a room,” Clarence said. “He’s just an all around happy go-lucky kid. He’s very respectful to his elders and very kindhearted. He’s turned out to be a fine young man, and I’m proud to call him my nephew.”

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Allie Jeter

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