One of the biggest commitments in the 2017 college basketball recruiting cycle was revealed Saturday night via Twitter. Kevin Knox, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Tampa, finally ended the speculation.
He’ll be playing for John Calipari and Kentucky next season. It’s a rare case of a five-star commitment coming out of the blue, as no one had any grasp on Knox’s leanings before he made his choice public.
Knox picks UK over Duke, North Carolina, Florida State (where his father played) and Missouri. Virtually nobody had any idea which school he would choose; Knox’s recruitment was unusually close to the vest. He also sought little publicity for himself amid his recruitment process, and it’s rare when that’s the case with any McDonald’s All-American.
Three things to know
1. The biggest surprise recruitment you could ever ask for Kentucky
Knox’s commitment, once again, speaks volumes about Calipari’s ability to recruit. Whenever there’s a five-star out there, obviously Kentucky will be considered a team in the mix until the player states otherwise. Never bet against John. But that said, this is as big of a surprise from a five-star as Kentucky fans could ever get. Most were expecting Knox to head to Duke or North Carolina. Because there was so much radio silence around Knox, Kentucky simply wasn’t listed as a frontrunner, or even No. 2
But, again, never bet against John.
2. Kentucky has the best class by far
No one will be passing UK in the recruiting rankings this year. It would be a stunner if Knox isn’t a one-and-done player. He’s a great get for Kentucky, and in fact this the sixth five-star player eligible to play for UK next season. Hamidou Diallo enrolled in January and is testing the draft process, but even if he doesn’t come back, Knox joins five-star small forward Jared Vanderbilt, five-star power forward P.J. Washington, five-star center Nick Richards and five-star point guard Quade Green.
Calipari has been tasked with an unexpectedly huge turnover of production from the 2016-17 team, but he has stocked up as well as he possibly could. UK’s front court will be young but immensely talented. Knox is like found money at this point, and will almost certainly play small forward in UK’s scheme.
3. Knox will immediately shine because of his adaptable style
Knox spoke with Respect My Face Magazine in coordination with his commitment. Two years ago, he was a better football prospect than basketball one. But in the past 12 months, he has become a commodity on the hoops circuit, ranking top 10 nationally and No. 2 at small forward in the class of 2017.
Here’s how he laid out the big-picture choices:
“Because the truth is that all five of these schools are great choices for me. I would love to play for Leonard Hamilton and follow in the footsteps of my father at Florida State, where he played wide receiver and after a great career as a Seminole was drafted into the NFL. I would love to add to the rich tradition that Duke University holds on and off the court, and play for one of the all time great coaches, Coach K. I would love to go up to Chapel Hill, play for Roy Williams, and chase back-to-back National Championships at North Carolina. I would love to join Big Blue Nation and play for Coach Calipari at Kentucky, and I would love to join my close friend Michael Porter Jr. and play for coach Cuonzo Martin at Missouri.
“But I can only go to one school.”
He’ll try to help Kentucky win a second national championship under Calipari. He has a game similar to Jayson Tatum, and in fact has better athleticism than Tatum, I think. He can play the 3 or the 4, but again, because Kentucky has so many bigs, he’ll likely play the 3. At small forward, he’ll have a chance to average anywhere between 11 and 16 points next season, plus be a regular double-double guy. Of all the players Kentucky is bringing in, Knox will likely have the most visibly appealing and adaptable game at the college level.