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Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox ends suspense, commits to Kentucky

Kentucky gets the nod from Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox over North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Missouri.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Kentucky gets the nod from Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox over North Carolina, Duke, Florida State and Missouri.

In less than 40 characters, while sitting on the living room couch Saturday, Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox typed out a declaration that ended the whirlwind courtship, the endless phone calls and the constant questions.

Knox, one of the nation's most coveted recruits, announced via Twitter that he would be attending Kentucky for what most likely will be one season. The 6-foot-9 forward picked the Wildcats over Duke, Florida State, Missouri and North Carolina.

Knox, ranked No. 9 in ESPN's top 100 for the 2017 class, gives the Wildcats five recruits in the top 25, the only program to hold that distinction. Kentucky has done it twice before in 2013 and 2016.

He will join former Robinson standout Desmond Allison (1998-2000) as the only major recruits from the bay area to play for the Wildcats.

One of the things that intrigued Knox about the Wildcats was their history of sending players to the NBA after their freshman seasons. Counting the entries in this year's NBA draft, the Wildcats have had 21 players who have been one-and-done under coach John Calipari.

Knox's decision was an intensely anticipated moment and signaled an end to a year-long recruiting process that was as frantic as it was suspenseful.

Knox chose to do it quietly. There was some discussion with his family about making the announcement on television. Tampa Catholic coach Don Dziagwa suggested doing it during an assembly in front of the student body.

The spotlight has never been something that suits Knox's low-key nature. In December, he was picked for an athletic award at school. Knox asked Dziagwa if someone else could be chosen.

"Kevin is not the flamboyant, Charles Barkley type of figure," said Knox's father, also named Kevin. "He does not want all the attention. I did some research when LeBron made The Decision and he later regretted it. So we didn't want to go that route and make a big spectacle out of it."

Knox has leaned on his father throughout the recruiting process. The two went on recruiting trips along with the rest of the family. They talked to coaches, dissecting their styles. They kept up on who was declaring for the NBA draft and what impact that would have on playing time.

Bullet points were made — and checked off — with each school. During official recruiting trips, Knox would shoot hoops. No crowds. No media. Just Knox inside an empty arena getting a feel for what it would be like to play at that particular program.

"There was not a lot of pressure on Kevin because he was already prepared," his father said. "That was part of the plan. If you've studied all semester, there's no scrambling for the final exam. Kevin had put in enough and had the right platform to make an educated decision on what's best for him."

College was the only option. His parents turned down a $1.4 million offer from a professional team in China that wanted Knox to play overseas for a year. To safeguard against injury, Knox's family took out a $1 million insurance policy through Lloyds of London.

The process turned out to be lengthy. Knox continually pushed back his decision to get a better idea on how he will fit in the lineup on his short list of schools. The waiting only intensified the interest. Knox was one of eight elite recruits who had yet to make a college commitment.

His father insisted he did not know what the decision would be until Saturday's announcement.

"That's how we wanted it," the elder Knox said. "It's always been that way since the day Kevin was born. My wife and I didn't want to know whether we were having a boy or a girl. We had two names ready, Ashley or Kevin."

Now the waiting is over.

Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox ends suspense, commits to Kentucky 05/06/17 [Last modified: Monday, May 8, 2017 2:03pm]
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