Elvis Kisonas has always been a little different.
His parents named him Elvis because they planned to move from their native Lithuania to the United States and didn't want their son's name to be hard to pronounce.
But Kisonas' name is just part of what makes the 5-foot-10, 150-pound Ardrey Kell junior stand out on both the basketball court and in the classroom. Kisonas averages 14 points per game for the Knights (4-4) while maintaining a 4.6 GPA.
"I'm not 'Matt' or 'John' or anything average, normal like that, but I wouldn't want to be," said Kisonas, who moved to Charlotte when he was 8. "I'm Elvis, and I love my name."
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Ardrey Kell basketball coach Mike Craft identified Kisonas early in his freshman season as a potential Knights star, after the first-year player proved to be an accurate shooter.
Craft moved Kisonas to varsity at the end of his freshman season, allowing him to practice and travel with the team as the Knights went to the regional semifinals.
Kisonas came into his sophomore year hoping to make varsity and an impact. But he fractured his foot in his first varsity game, which kept him out the rest of the season.
"I was really excited about my sophomore year, and then the injury happened," said Kisonas. "It was tough to sit and watch, but I think it made me a better player."
Kisonas and his father, Robert, decided to get a personal trainer to help him rehabilitate his foot and get better. Charlotte-area trainer Tony George, a former University of Florida football player, helped Kisonas work on everything from speed and agility to quickness and defense.
Kisonas returned for his junior year in the best shape of his life, and it has shown early. He averaged 17 points and shot over 71 percent from the three-point line in the Knights' first five games, and the team began the season 4-1.
While he has cooled as the Knights have struggled, Kisonas and company still are trying to find their identity. They lost their best two players in Justin Cheek (High Point) and Cameron McQueen (Wofford) to graduation.
"We are still trying to figure out just who we are this year," said Craft, "but we expect to figure it out. We expect to contend for the Southwestern 4A title, and hopefully make an impact in the playoffs."
While point guard T.J. Cox and forwards Andrew Alexander and Drew Owens are the more established stars, Kisonas will have to play a large role if the Knights want to go anywhere this year.
"We've got to be focused on getting better," Kisonas said. "I think for me (and the team) it all starts in practice. You play the way you practice."
Kisonas' work habits continue to improve. He works out with George but also tries to put up 200-300 shots per day when not in school.
While Kisonas hopes his future includes college basketball, if it doesn't, he says, he hopes to go to a Division I school and maybe one day play overseas or become a basketball coach.
"I love the game of basketball," said Kisonas. "I don't know what my future holds, but I want to keep it a part of my life no matter what happens."