The link between recent Missouri basketball commit Michael Porter Jr. and fellow McDonald’s All-American Kevin Knox II was, maybe more than anything else, an iPhone app.
Yes, the hardwood was commonplace for the two top-10 players in the class of 2017. Porter, a Columbia native, and Knox, a 6-foot-9 Tampa, Fla., native who is a consensus five-star 2017 prospect, competed together through the USA basketball program. They often shared the court on the Nike EYBL circuit playing AAU.
Still, it’s thanks in large part to Game Pigeon, an app dedicated to two-player virtual pool, that the two have developed such a close relationship, according to Knox’s dad Kevin Knox Sr., who played wide receiver at Florida State under coach Bobby Bowden.
And that relationship, which has taken to social media in the last two weeks, played a crucial role in Missouri landing Knox’s fifth and final official visit.
“It was just an opportunity,” Knox Sr. said. “ … When Cuonzo (Martin) went to Missouri and Michael Porter decommitted (from Washington) and went to Missouri, just with their relationship playing iPhone pool and having each other’s number, Michael Porter was like ‘Yo, I think you need to take a look at the Zou.’ ”
Come April 8, Knox, who led Tampa Catholic High School to a runner-up finish in the Florida Class 5A state championship while averaging 28.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game will indeed take that look.
After having already visited Duke, Kentucky, Florida State and North Carolina, the trip to Columbia will conclude a process that has spanned years and garnered long hours, Knox Sr. said.
Two nights each week, father and son talk for 45 minutes about each school. Recently, with Martin’s hiring back on March 15 and Porter’s commitment on March 24, Missouri jumped into those conversations.
The first thing that came into Knox Sr.’s mind when Porter first reached out to his son: “Wow.”
“Can you imagine Michael Porter getting the chance to play with Kevin Knox?” he thought. “That would probably be awesome for Mike to actually have an opportunity to play with another wing of equal talent and go from there.”
Although Missouri has jumped onto Knox’s radar in recent weeks, Florida’s Mr. Basketball was offered by Martin at the University of California. Conversely, Knox was not recruited heavily by Missouri under coach Kim Anderson nor by Washington under former coach Lorenzo Romar, Knox Sr. said.
After doing some research on Martin, Knox Sr. said it appears Martin is “a pretty straightforward, defensive-minded coach.”
“I’m a pretty straightforward, defensive-minded dad, so — so far — it’s working out just on the surface of everything,” Knox Sr. said. “We’re just now going internal on a lot of things.”
Two of those things are playing style and immediate fit, things Knox Sr. wants for his son, and things he has already discussed in depth with the likes of North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton.
Knox Sr. maintains he’s not worried about how quickly Missouri has jumped into the picture and added that it’s a testament to “who Cuonzo Martin is.”
“I have the utmost respect for Cuonzo and his coaching style to (be willing to) allow him to come in this late and have an opportunity to coach Kevin Knox,” said Knox Sr. “I’m good with it.
“If we’re able to establish some type of relationship and they’re able to answer the questions internally, then I don’t have any reason for my son not to go to Missouri.”