For the second consecutive week, John Calipari will welcome one of the best basketball recruits in the country to Lexington for an official visit.
Five-star small forward Kevin Knox — a 6-foot-9 prospect from Tampa, Fla. — is set to be at UK with his family this weekend, a trip that will include the Wildcats’ game against Kansas on Saturday night in Rupp Arena.
Knox, along with 7-footer Mohamed Bamba, who visited Kentucky last weekend, is one of Calipari’s top two remaining targets in the 2017 recruiting class. UK already has the No. 1-ranked group nationally in this recruiting cycle, but Knox would be the highest-rated player in the Wildcats’ class if he ultimately commits.
“He’s a dynamic prospect, and he’s so versatile at the forward spot,” Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “You can play him as a ‘3’ man on the perimeter. You can play him as a mismatch nightmare at the face-up ‘4’ position. He’s a really good athlete. He has long arms. He’s fluid and mobile. And he’s really improved as a shooter and a scorer. He’s a guy that’s starting to make shots.”
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Scout.com ranks Knox as the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2017 class.
You can’t count Kentucky out. Ever.
Evan Daniels, Scout.com national analyst
Kentucky has commitments from five-star point guard Quade Green and four-star combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, while mid-season enrollee Hamidou Diallo, a talented shooting guard, is expected to return to Lexington for his college debut next season. If Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk all opt for this year’s NBA Draft — seemingly the most likely scenario — the Cats’ only scholarship players in the backcourt next season would be Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander and Green.
Knox — though also a capable inside presence at 6-9 — could help out in that area.
“Wherever he goes, he’s going to spend a lot of time playing on the perimeter,” Daniels said.
The Cats also have commitments from five-star combo forwards PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt — and Wenyen Gabriel could also return next season — but Calipari has stressed to Knox and his family that there’s plenty of room for him at Kentucky.
The UK coach traveled to North Carolina to see Knox play just a few days after Vanderbilt’s commitment, and Knox’s father said Calipari has told them to look more at Monk’s role on this season’s team as an indication for how Knox would fit in with the Cats next season.
“The way Kentucky plays, I’m sure they would figure it out. I know they would,” Daniels said. “But I don’t know Kevin’s mindset and how it would impact things from his point of view.”
It’s been tough for anyone in the recruiting world to get a good handle on which way Knox might be leaning. Kentucky is one of four finalists, along with Duke, North Carolina and Florida State, where both of his parents attended school and his father was a football standout in the 1990s.
He’s already taken official visits to Duke and FSU, and he’ll take the final such trip of his recruitment to UNC next weekend.
“He hasn’t really shown his hand,” Daniels said. “You can’t count Kentucky out. Ever. … I couldn’t pinpoint a leader at this point. I don’t think that we’re going to see a college choice from him in the near future. I think he’s going to wait this out.”