What a Derby Day, huh? Mint Juleps, horse racing, gambling, and “My Old Kentucky Home” blasting through televisions across America. What more can you ask for?
I’ve got just the thing…
BBN, meet your newest Wildcat.
Small Forward | 6-9 | 215 lbs.
Tampa, FL | Tampa Catholic
|ESPN||No. 9 | 2 SF||Top247||No. 10 | 2 SF|
|Rivals||No. 9 | 2 SF||Scout||No. 7 | 2 SF|
Before we dive into who Knox is as a player and what he brings to the table, first thing’s first…
Why was his recruitment so hard to follow?
Local media, national guys, team insiders, etc., everyone missed this one. There was not one person covering this recruitment that legitimately picked Kentucky to land Knox yesterday.
For those curious, here’s what his Crystal Ball on 247 Sports looked like right before he picked the Wildcats. Again, no one had a clue.
In almost every interview, Knox gave glowing reviews to each school on his final list, making it hard to separate one school from the next. He seemingly loved every coach, every program, recruits committed to each school, etc. With other prospects, you can typically weed out the favorites from the schools there just for show. With Knox, you simply couldn’t.
Many media members fell in love with the idea of Knox playing with Duke commits Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr. last summer for Coach K and Team USA at the U17 FIBA World Championships, and rightfully so. We saw it when Calipari coached Karl-Anthony Towns for the Dominican Republic National Team, it’s easy to develop relationships when you coach a kid before he makes his college decision. Duke has an excellent track record with elite small forwards, and Knox has spoken in the past about how much that intrigued him. When rumors spread that Knox’s family loved the Duke coaching staff, the Blue Devils became the favorite in the media’s eyes.
The idea of Knox replacing Justin Jackson at UNC made an interesting storyline, as well. The defending national champions needed just one major scoring threat to replace Jackson, and the opportunity to repeat was absolutely there. He has always been fond of Roy Williams and the program, why not?
People knew Knox’s parents attended Florida State, and when his father said the announcement would be “interesting,” many felt there was a connection between the two. Brief rumblings of the Seminoles landing the talented wing spread earlier in the week, and a little into Saturday morning.
Knox and Michael Porter Jr. are great friends, and a late visit to Missouri sparked some rumors there, too. Would Knox want to take the Ben Simmons/Markelle Fultz route and pad stats on a team not expected to do much? Some thought it was possible.
It seemed these narratives were just written off of educated guesses and context clues, not inside “sources” or actual knowledge of the situation. They all sounded reasonable, and when the first few media members picked Duke, everyone else seemed to just follow suit.
Luckily for us, they were wrong.
Now onto Knox as a player…
At 6’9, 210 lbs., Knox is one of the most unique players in the country.
With a 7-foot wingspan and a standing reach of 8’10, Knox has the length to make a massive impact on both ends of the floor. Averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists per game in high school, the forward out of Tampa, FL is considered one of the top scorers in the nation. He has the ability to get to the rim and finish in transition, along with a silky-smooth jumper that should be illegal for a guy as big as he is.
On defense, Knox can alter shots at the rim, and his lateral quickness makes it possible to defend multiple positions. When his killer instinct is turned on, he’s not afraid to get up in your face and take on the opposing team’s best player. He averaged 2.2 steals and two blocks per game as a senior, proving he’s certainly not afraid to get his hands dirty on that end of the floor.
Knox’s bread and butter, however, comes with his versatility.
If Calipari wants to go small ball, Knox can thrive at the four and beat you with his size by attacking the basket and rebounding with the best of them. If he wants to go for the Monstars massive lineup, Knox can play shooting guard and not skip a beat. The 2017 recruiting class is the most versatile of the Calipari era, and the addition of Knox only makes them that much scarier. This team is going to find ways to beat you in an absurd number of ways.
What do you even do to stop that?
There’s a reason NBA scouts are drooling over this kid. He’s a future superstar in the league.
Last year, Malik Monk had the ultimate green light, taking shots if he had even the slightest sliver of daylight between him and his man. There wasn’t a shot he didn’t like, even if the ball clanked off the rim or failed to hit anything at all. His massive jumpers saved Kentucky on countless occasions, but sometimes his shot selection really put the Wildcats in a bind.
Kevin Knox is very similar in this sense, as he tends to be fairly trigger happy with a habit of taking bad shots. Monk got it under control late in the year, and his game grew as a result. With all of the physical tools Knox already has, I see him finding his groove early in the year and never looking back.
He’ll also need to bulk up a little bit to dominate against D-1 athletes. He has gained roughly 15 lbs. over the past year, but still struggles against physical and overly-aggressive athletes. He’ll see a whole lot of those in college, so it’ll be crucial for him to add muscle this summer.
He has decent ball handling ability, but if he wants to play any significant minutes at shooting guard, he’ll have to tighten that up. He tends to be loose with the ball and dribble high, which led to averaging over three turnovers a game as a senior in high school.
Let’s be honest though, I’m nitpicking. There’s not a lot to dislike about his game.
When Calipari raves over a kid, it’s for a reason. Cal has been obsessed with getting Knox to Lexington for several years now, and you better believe he’s excited he got his guy.
Knox has the potential to become a 20+ PPG scorer at Kentucky and a top five pick in next year’s NBA Draft. Many fans felt UK’s recruiting class was filled with starter-quality guys, but no stars to take the team to the next level and solidify the Wildcats as a title contender next season. Without a doubt, Knox is that guy. In case that’s not enough, there’s another star caliber athlete waiting to make his decision with UK in his top two in Mohamed Bamba. Things are just fine in the bluegrass.
After striking out on so many elite small forwards over the years, it feels great to have one locked up next year.