Kevin Knox was considered a one-and-done prospect from the moment he stepped on Kentucky’s campus until the horn sounded in the final game of his freshman season. A projected 2018 lottery pick for the past year and beyond, Knox seemed to be UK’s most likely candidate to leave this summer, and that his decision would be a rather easy one.
But that’s not the case, now that it’s time for Knox to make his decision. Knox is struggling to decide between a sophomore season in Lexington and a jump to the league, and there are positives to each side.
The case for the NBA is obvious: make around five million dollars over three years and hope to lock down even more with a second contract, all while living out a lifelong dream. It would be hard to turn that down when it’s at your fingertips, but for Knox, there is a case to be made to put that dream on hold. In the end I think he’ll still jump at the opportunity to be a pro this summer, but these are five reasons why he could return to Kentucky for a second year:
1. He’s still very young.
As John Calipari reminded us many times over the last six months, Kevin Knox is one of the youngest college basketball players in the country. Knox doesn’t turn 19 for another six months, which means he would still only be 18 on draft night. He’s younger than incoming point guard Immanuel Quickley, and only two months older than Keldon Johnson. And get this: he’s younger than UK target Ashton Hagans, who is only a junior in high school right now.
So while many freshman NBA prospects try to jump at the opportunity to go to the league as soon as possible, Knox would only be the age of most of those freshmen if he were to wait and enter the draft as a sophomore.
And with the demands of the NBA lifestyle, it wouldn’t hurt to grow up a little bit more.
2. His family is in no rush.
Unlike many young basketball stars his age, Kevin Knox does not need to earn a paycheck from basketball. It would be nice, yes, but he and his family aren’t in a situation where he needs to provide for them to get by.
Knox’s father, Kevin Knox Sr., told Kyle Tucker over at SEC County, “Kevin comes from a family with, to be honest with you, two educated parents who are not in need. We don’t need for Kevin to go out and buy us a house or buy us a car or something,”
3. He needs a ring.
Knox may not need the money, but he does need a ring. His father won the NCAA national championship in football as a wide receiver at Florida State in 1993, and has always stressed to his son what it takes to become a champion.
Prior to his freshman season at Kentucky last fall, Knox said, “It would be good to get my own ring, I could show it off to him. He’s really pushed me really hard, he has a really great work ethic and he’s really passed it down to me.”
4. He would be a National Player of the Year candidate.
The stars of college basketball will soon be gone, paving the way for new stars next season. There’s no reason to think Knox wouldn’t be one of the faces of the game if he were to return for a sophomore campaign, and he would make Kentucky an instant contender for the title.
5. He could become a top-five draft pick. (This is the big one.)
Knox will not be a top-five pick this summer. With a star-studded top tier of prospects entering the league in the upcoming draft, Knox, at best, will be lucky to crack the top 10. He could have a great combine and pre-draft process, and still not go higher than 11th.
But next year’s draft is different. With another year of college basketball, in which he could improve in a variety of ways and show some scoring consistency, Knox could climb all the way up to the top five. If he had a spectacular sophomore season, who knows, maybe he could beat out RJ Barrett for the No. 1 overall pick. It’s not impossible. Imagine what he can do with other scorers (like the ones Kentucky will have) around him. He could have a HUGE year.
So, come on back?