The question swirled for six weeks in the hopeful minds of Missouri fans.
Could the 11th-hour recruitment of Tampa (Fla.) Catholic High wing Kevin Knox II actually swing in the Tigers’ favor?
If any fan base deserved to dream, it was Mizzou’s, which has endured a wretched 27-68 stretch during the last three basketball seasons that has included a dismal 8-46 record in SEC play.
During the last two months, the Tigers poached former Missouri State and Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin from California, signed top 2017 prospect Michael Porter Jr. and fellow former Washington signee Blake Harris and retained Richland (Texas) Hills guard C.J. Roberts.
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Knox would be icing on the cake, but was it really possible?
The answer came Saturday evening when Knox stunned most recruiting observers by picking SEC rival Kentucky.
Knox never considered Mizzou until Porter committed in late March. It was a frequent topic of conversation between the two leading up to the 2017 McDonald’s All-American Game on March 29 in Chicago.
Porter helped convince Knox — a consensus five-star recruit, who is ranked ninth in the 2017 class by ESPN, Rivals and Scout and 17th by 247 Sports — to visit Columbia in early April.
Tigers fans have waited breathlessly (and nervously) ever since.
Immediately after that visit — which also included Porter and Harris, a four-star point guard from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C., who signed with MU in mid-April — Martin’s program seemed to have seized some momentum.
Knox already had visited his father’s alma mater, Florida State, and reigning national champion North Carolina along with traditional powers Duke and Kentucky as well.
Knox’s father, Kevin Sr., played football at Florida State. But speculation in recent weeks centered on the ACC’s powerbrokers, the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, though Knox also was reportedly impressed with Martin and Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton during in-home visits a few weeks ago.
Instead, Knox joins yet another loaded class for John Calipari’s Wildcats that includes five other top-30 prospects — including fellow McDonald’s All-Americans Quade Green, Nick Richards, Jarred Vanderbilt and P.J. Washington Jr.
Missouri gave it a good run on the recruiting trail, but now Martin and company must deal with Knox — who averaged 28.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a prep senior, earning consensus status as the second-best wing in the class behind Porter — for at least one season.
In an exclusive interview announcing the decision, Knox told Respect My Face Magazine all five schools “are great choices for me” and that he’d love “to join my close friend Michael Porter Jr. and play for coach Cuonzo Martin at Missouri.”
Instead, Knox picked Big Blue Nation, making next year’s Kentucky/Mizzou matchups tough tickets and must-see TV for the matchup with Porter alone.