GazetteXtra Print Article Logo URL: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/hometeam/2017/11/10/kevin-knox-college-era-begins-today/


Kevin Knox college era begins today

By Bob Putnam
Kentucky's Kevin Knox, left, dunks next to Morehead State's Emanuel Thompson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball exhibition game, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 92-67. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Kevin Knox turned 18 in August and is only months removed from playing the likes of the Villages in state high school tournaments.

Yet the former Tampa Catholic standout already is on the preseason watch list for the Naismith and Oscar Robertson trophies, given annually to the nation's top college basketball player.

Such is the fanfare surrounding Knox's much anticipated regular-season debut with Kentucky.

The hoopla might be over once his freshman season wraps up.

After all, Knox is good enough that he might declare for the NBA draft in the spring, potentially becoming a lottery pick. Several teams have already gone through the vetting process with the 6-foot-9 forward, going so far as to call his high school coach for background references.

Related: Kevin Knox's lifelong push for the pros

Before Knox can think about a professional basketball career, he has to get through one in college, however brief that is.

By all indications, Knox should dominate. The McDonald's All-American is the most decorated recruit in the Wildcats' 2018 class. Knox's aggressive play in practice (he's driving more and firing fewer long -range shots) has helped soothe the concerns Kentucky coach John Calipari had about such a young, inexperienced lineup.

In exhibition games, Knox was among the team's leading scorer, often dunking at will.

Today, the games are real. Kentucky hosts Utah Valley in the opener.

The opponents become tougher through the week. On Tuesday, the Wildcats play Kansas in a matchup of top-five teams.

The expectations will increase, too.

Knox already is used to that.