Kevin Knox's Decision
On Sunday May 7th, 2017, the entire college basketball world: players, coaches, and fans, held their breaths. That day, Tampa Catholic’s 5* recruit, Kevin Knox would announce his decision of where he would be playing his college basketball. Kevin is ranked number 10 in the United States for the class of 2017, according to 247sports.com. He is a 6’8” 195 lb. small forward whose game has drawn many comparisons to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Knox had offers to play for 21 colleges, and eventually he cut that list down to 5: University of North Carolina, Duke University, Florida State University, University of Kentucky, and Missouri University.
Let’s examine the teams in Knox’s top 5 choices:
First we will discuss UNC. UNC just won the national championship last month in a thriller over Gonzaga. Their star small forward, Justin Jackson, had declared for the NBA Draft. Thus, at UNC, Knox would be the starting small forward the second he steps foot on the campus at Chapel Hill and he would be in position to compete for a national championship immediately, as the majority of the important players from the Tar Heels roster will be returning for a chance to defend their title. The Tar Heels also have 5 other incoming freshmen, 2 4* recruits and 3 3*s. The 4*s are shooting guard Jalek Felton (ranked 27th) and power forward Garrison Brooks (ranked 128th). The 3*s are center Brandon Huffman, Andrew Platek, and Sterling Manley (ranked 189, 214, and 262 respectively). So if Knox signed with UNC, he would be joining a talented freshman class as well as an elite team of returning student-athletes.
The next team we will look at is Duke. Duke has arguably the greatest coach in the history of college basketball in Mike Krzyzewski, and Coach K has brought yet another star-studded recruiting class to Duke. If Knox signed to become a Blue Devil, he would one of the best recruiting classes from this year: point guard Trevon Duval (ranked 5th and committed to Duke a couple weeks after Duke), power forward Wendell Carter Jr. (ranked 6th), shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. (ranked 16th), shooting guard Alex O’Connell (ranked 64) and a third shooting guard, Jordan Goldwire (ranked 370) to form an elite freshman class. We are also expecting many of their important players to be returning as only 3 of their players, Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles, and Luke Kennard, have declared for the NBA draft. Some returning players are Grayson Allen, Matt Jones, Frank Jackson, and Chase Jeter. Knox would able to flourish under Coach K and he could compete for a national championship at Duke.
The “dark horse” in Knox’s top 5 was Missouri. A couple of months ago, Washington’s assistant coach, Michael Porter, left there to be an assistant at Missouri. This caused, his son Michael Porter Jr. (ranked #1 in the nation) to decommit from Washington and sign to play with Missouri. Knox and Porter have developed a very close friendship over the years from competing against each other in AAU ball. Missouri is not typically regarded for having elite basketball program, but having the 2 headed monster of Knox and Porter in their front court would surely change that, at least for the 2017-18 season, as both Knox and Porter are expected to declare for the NBA draft after their freshman year of college. Knox’s relationship with Porter could have caused an average D-1 program to become a fierce national championship competitor in the 2017-18 season had Knox signed to become a Tiger.
Knox also had the option to state of Florida for college and play at FSU. For starters, his father, Kevin Knox Sr., had played wide receiver at FSU. So, he had family ties to FSU which are obviously an incentive to become a Seminole. Also, FSU has recently developed an elite basketball program under head coach Leonard Williams. At FSU, Knox would join a couple of other elite players from Florida in Raiquan “Turk” Gray from Dillard High School, Wyatt Wilkes from Winter Park, and Anthony Polite from Saint Andrews. He would also join Ikechukwu Obiagu and Bryan Trimble, which would create a formidable recruiting class. Also, a talented group of returning players led by Xavier Rathan-Mayes would help form a solid supporting cast as Knox would be the star of the show there. Remember, FSU is the 3rd best team in the ACC, and the 2 ahead of the Seminoles are UNC and Duke (not so ironically, both were in his top 5 also), so Knox would have to fight some tough battles to even win his conference if he were to sign with FSU. But regardless, the ‘Noles are a very tough team and come March, as long as you are in the dance, it doesn’t matter how you did in conference play. So FSU could still be considered a good fit for Knox had he signed with them.
Finally, we get to the team who he would play with… The Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats are coached by another legendary coach in John Calipari. Cal is in my opinion the greatest recruiter in the history of college sports. Year after year, he brings multiple 5* recruits to Lexington. This year he got 6 of them (including Knox), he also got a pair of elite 4*s. The 5 star recruits: Knox (obviously), shooting guard Hamidou Diallo (who was a member of the Wildcat’s practice team for the second half of this season, ranked 9th), small forward Jarred Vanderbilt (ranked 11th), power forward P.J. Washington (ranked 14th), center Nick Richards (ranked 17th), and point guard Quade Green (ranked 23rd). The 4 star recruits: point guard/ shooting guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ranked 28th) and shooting guard Jemarl Baker (ranked 69th). Also, the Wildcats are expected to bring back many key players including: Wenyen Gabriel, Isaiah Briscoe, Sacha Killeya-Jones, and Isaac Humphries. Kentucky is always a threat to cut the nets down in early April and this coming Wildcats squad looks dangerous.
Do I agree with Knox’s decision to join “Blue Blood Nation”? No, I don’t. However, this opinion may be biased as I am a UNC fan myself. Personally, I would love to see Knox playing under legendary coach Roy Williams at UNC, I think that Knox, Joel Berry, and co. would have no problem running through the rest of the D-1 schools and have a chance to play for a 3rd consecutive national championship (I should be saying win a 3rd consecutive national championship, but the loss a couple years ago to Villanova is an entirely different story). Also, while Kevin Knox a true star, Kentucky has so much talent that Knox will not be able to demonstrate his ability for NBA teams in college. Knox can play shooting guard, small forward, and power forward (and also he can probably play point guard and center), but Kentucky has so much depth at those three positions. At shooting guard, Isaiah Briscoe, Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Jemarl Baker will all be competing for the starting spot. At Knox’s true position, small forward, he will compete with Jarred Vanderbilt (only ranked 1 spot behind Knox according to 247sports.com) for a starting spot, and P.J. Washington, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Wenyen Gabriel, and Isaac Humphries will all be getting minutes at the power forward spot. So the Wildcats’ depth will hold Knox back from displaying his full potential. But I believe that regardless of whether or not Knox starts for the Wildcats, NBA coaches, general managers, and scouts, will see that Knox is a great player that can immediately make a positive impact on any NBA roster. Also, people like me and you can criticize Knox for his decision to take his talents to Blue Blood Nation all we want, but at the end of the day, he chose to play for the team that he thought benefitted his development as a player the most. What did you think about Kevin Knox signing to play for the Kentucky Wildcats?
Next time, I will be talking about Nike’s EYBL circuit.
Knox in action for his High School Team, Tampa Catholic
Knox with some of his future Kentucky Teammates (from left to right): PJ Washington, Quade Green, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Kevin Knox