CHICAGO — Kevin Knox lingered on the sideline for a while as the rest of his teammates took turns scoring in the McDonald's All-American Game on Wednesday night.
Despite limited playing time, the Tampa Catholic forward made his presence known.
In the waning seconds of the first half, Knox raced down the United Center court. East teammate Colin Sexton put the ball behind his back before tossing a perfect alley-oop pass to Knox for a two-handed, buzzer-beating dunk.
Knox, a consensus five-star recruit, played 19 minutes and finished with 15 points in the East's 109-107 loss. The West's Michael Porter, who recently committed to Missouri, scored a team-high 17 points and was named the game's MVP.
"Overall, I thought I played really well, and I put on a show for the fans," Knox said. "The alley-oop was a great pass from Colin, and I had to finish off for him. It was a great play. I saw that it was going to make SportsCenter's Top 10 plays. It was definitely one of the best moments of the game."
This wasn't the first time Knox had played in a big game. Twice, he helped USA Basketball's junior national teams win world titles. He also helped Tampa Catholic reach the state semifinals last season and the state title game this season.
Wednesday was Knox's turn in the national spotlight. He was playing in an NBA arena, in a game televised on ESPN. LeBron James, whose Cavaliers were in town to play the Bulls tonight, was in the stands. So were the Bulls' Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rando.
"It was such a great atmosphere with so many people here and so many cheering," Knox said. "It's just such a great event. I saw a lot of the NBA players walking in. It's good for them to come out and support the kids."
Knox knew all about the history and wanted to be part of it. He is just the fifth boys player from the Tampa Bay area to play in the game, joining Brandon's Dwayne Schintzius (1986), Boca Ciega's David White (1986), Tampa Prep's Casey Sanders (1999) and Sickles' John Henson (2009).
If this game was supposed to be Knox's biggest test, he was determined to leave his mark. His 15 points were one shy of Henson's tally for most by a bay area player in the game.
The alley-oop dunk was not Knox's only highlight. Less than two minutes into the game, he stepped back and hit a 3-pointer. In the second half, Knox had another two-handed dunk. In the final three minutes, he scored three straight baskets for the East.
Knox's long-range prowess, which he showed off during Monday's 3-point contest, was not always sharp. He finished 1-for-5 from 3-point range. He made up for that by showing off his ability to score inside. Overall, he was 7-of-11 from the field. He also had three rebounds and an assist.
"I knew I wanted to play hard, have fun, slow down and let the game come to me and play the game I wanted to play," he said. "I missed a couple of shots, but I thought I had a really good game."
The national showcases aren't over. On Tuesday, Knox travels to Portland, Ore., for the Nike Hoops Summit. After that, he goes to New York for the Jordan Brand Classic.
Then it comes time for his college decision. Knox has narrowed his choices to Duke, Florida State, Kentucky and North Carolina, He will announce his decision in mid April.
For now, it's his time to bask in the spotlight of high school basketball's biggest stage.
"This is something I won't forget," Knox said.