UK freshman Kevin Knox, whose name was mentioned in the Yahoo Sports report on the federal investigation into college basketball Friday, said he never thought the issue would keep him out of Saturday night’s game against Missouri.
And Knox played like someone with no worries.
“I slept well last night, knowing I was going to be able to play,” Knox said. “I just came out tonight aggressive, and it was just good to be on the court.”
Knox scored a team-high 21 points in 24 minutes on the court and led the Wildcats to an 87-66 victory over Missouri, the team’s third consecutive victory and one of its most complete games of the season. It was UK’s biggest margin of victory in Southeastern Conference play, and the win moved Kentucky to 20-9 on the season and 9-7 in the SEC.
There was more uncertainty about Knox’s situation Friday morning, when Yahoo Sports published a report that listed his name among current and former college basketball players that met with or had meals with Christian Dawkins, an aspiring agent who was arrested last fall as a result of the federal investigation into college basketball.
Knox declined to say Saturday night whether or not he has ever met with Dawkins, a former associate of Andy Miller, the NBA agent whose office was raided by federal authorities last fall.
“I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about the win tonight,” Knox said. “A big win over Missouri.”
College players are allowed to meet with agents, but anything beyond that — like an agent paying for a player’s meal — is considered an impermissible benefit. Yahoo’s report also included spreadsheets with Dawkins’ expense reports to Miller’s agency, but those documents did not include Knox’s name.
Knox said he woke up to news of the Yahoo report Friday morning.
“I just woke up, my dad texted — he called me — and he just told me to make sure that I’m focused. ... And that’s what I did,” Knox said. “I didn’t focus on nothing that was going on (off the court). I just stuck to working out and making sure I got ready for the game tonight.”
Knox declined to say whether or not he met with any university officials over the issue. He said he was informed by a UK compliance official Saturday morning that he would be eligible to play in the game later that night against Missouri, and he said he was “never nervous” about the possibility that he might not play.
“I was sure that I would be able to play this whole week,” Knox said. “I wasn’t really focused on none of that. I let Kentucky and let the compliance (department) handle all of that. I was just focused on my game, focused on my teammates and just getting this win.”
Duke’s Wendell Carter and Alabama’s Collin Sexton, the other two current players on the same list as Knox in Yahoo’s report, also played in their teams’ games Saturday.
Knox was asked what Calipari’s message to him was in the aftermath of Friday’s report.
“He just told me to stay focused, don’t talk to nobody about nothing,” Knox said. “He said to get in the gym and, ‘Work all this out. Don’t focus on none of it. Talk to your teammates. Focus on your teammates. Focus on the film.’
“I just came out, just played hard, played aggressive, and it was a good win for us.”
Knox scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, helping UK open up its lead and roll to its third-largest margin of victory of the season. It was the sixth time this season that Knox has scored more than 20 points in a game and the second consecutive such performance after he dropped 23 points in a victory at Arkansas on Tuesday night.
“With everything going on, it’s been a good week,” Knox said. “I’ve just been blocking everything out. I had two good days of practice before this game. Last time, (Missouri) gave us a good whoopin’ at their place, so we just made sure we were focused with everything going on.”