Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.
And Tampa Catholic High School small forward Kevin Knox may be among the top prospects.
Knox, a five-star recruit, committed to coach John Calipari's Kentucky program in May ahead of schools including Duke and defending national champion North Carolina. Knox was rated by 247 sports as the No. 9 recruit and the No. 2 small forward prospect in the nation.
Likened to Kings small forward Rudy Gay and Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood, Knox has been praised for his versatile range of skills in a 6-foot-9 frame with a 6-11 wingspan.
Mock drafts have consistently placed Knox in the first round, with CBS Sports's Reid Forgrave projecting Knox to go seventh overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. Other analysts, including Yahoo Sports's Rob Dauster, have also placed Knox in the first round. However, Draft Express appears less optimistic about Knox's professional aspirations, leaving him out of their two-round mock draft entirely.
Under Calipari, Kentucky has become known for producing some of the top selections in the draft. First overall picks point guard John Wall, power forward Anthony Davis and center Karl-Anthony Towns all played for the Wildcats under Calipari before being selected, while in 2017 point guard De'Aaron Fox, shooting guard Malik Monk and center Bam Adebayo were all lottery selections.
Knox looks likely to become a member of the latest crop of "one-and-done" NBA draft prospects, who appear in college for the minimum one year before entering the draft. In 2017, each of the top seven selections were "one-and-done" players, and with the highest-selected exception being French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who played professionally in Europe, none of the top eleven picks played more than one year in college.
Calipari's program has been noted in particular for its recruiting of one-year players, with each of Wall, Davis, Towns, Fox, Monk and Adebayo, as well as other prominent players such as Suns shooting guard Devin Booker and Pelicans center Demarcus Cousins leaving for the NBA after a single year. The rule requiring players to be one year removed from high school before playing in the NBA has been a controversial one, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver claiming the system was "not working" before the first game of this year's NBA Finals.
Even for a "one-and-done" prospect, however, Knox will be young when he is drafted. Born on August 11, 1999, he will be among the youngest players selected in 2018 if he declares. Although the average age of a 2017 first-rounder was a record-low 20 years and 76 days, no first-round selection was older than Knox will be when the 2018 draft comes around, and only one draftee at all is less than a year younger than Knox. That player is Pacers second-round pick center Ike Inigbogu, who was born on October 22, 1998.
Knox will have an instant opportunity to impress NBA scouts while at Kentucky, with the Wildcats replacing four starters from last year. As well as Fox, Monk and Adebayo, forward Derek Willis graduated after the 2017 season, opening up a wing spot that Knox looks set to fit into. However, as has been the norm under Calipari, Knox arrives in Lexington as part of a recruiting class loaded with other top prospects. Including Knox, the 2017 class contains six five-star recruits, one of which is small forward Jarred Vanderbilt, who is rated one spot below Knox as the third-best small forward in the country. However, both Calipari and Knox's father, former Florida State and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Kevin Knox Sr, have suggested that Knox, with a refined outside game, may also see significant time at shooting guard for the Wildcats.
In April, Knox Sr. told the Times that Knox had received a $1.4-million offer to play professionally in China instead of attending college, which he turned down. During this year's draft, Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Terrance Ferguson made history by becoming the first American player selected after spending his first year out of high school playing professionally abroad instead of attending college.