University of Missouri

Father of Kevin Knox II breaks down recruiting pitches by Mizzou, four other schools

Kevin Knox II will pick either Mizzou, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky or Florida State the first week of May, his dad says.
Kevin Knox II will pick either Mizzou, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky or Florida State the first week of May, his dad says. AP

The couches inside the living room of the Knox family home earned their fair share of wear and tear this past week.

Years after the recruitment process began for Kevin Knox II, the five-star, 6-foot-9 forward from Tampa, Fla., five college basketball coaches stopped by his house to give their final pitches in hopes of earning a pledge from one of the top uncommitted recruits in the 2017 class.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton and Kentucky’s John Calipari visited Tuesday, while North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski spent time with the family Wednesday.

“It was a once in a lifetime thing,” Knox’s father, Kevin Knox Sr., said in a phone conversation with The Kansas City Star on Friday. “When you hit all the benchmarks of your high school career and then, for it to come down to the last, final day of recruiting and all those guys come through, it was good. It was pretty exciting.”

Knox is expected to announce his college decision between May 1 and 7, according to Knox Sr. The visits came just days after Knox played in the Jordan Brand Classic.

Knox Sr. said he has heard many of the pitches and, by now, redundancy is prevalent. Still, he was impressed by what each coach had to offer.

Krzyzewski, Knox Sr. said, pitched “what he’s pitched the last two years” in that Knox can step in for Jayson Tatum, who declared for the NBA Draft on March 22. Williams, too, pushed a similar narrative in reference to Justin Jackson, who was crucial in the Tar Heels’ national championship run. Jackson declared for the NBA Draft on April 13.

Kentucky spoke about Knox’s ability to play the two-guard, while Florida State went with “a unique approach,” Knox Sr. said.

A former Florida State wide receiver and national championship winner under coach Bobby Bowden, Knox Sr. said Hamilton compared Knox II to Syracuse’s 2003 national championship team with Carmelo Anthony, now a 10-time NBA All-Star.

The pitch? Knox II would be Florida State’s 2018 version of Anthony.

“I thought that was really good,” Knox Sr. said. “For their 2018 team, they were going player for player that won the national championship (with Syracuse) with Kevin being Carmelo. It was amazing because they’re similar sized when both entered college.”

Missouri’s pitch was a bit different because of the Tigers’ late arrival to the Knox II sweepstakes. Knox Sr. said he enjoyed visiting with Martin, who compared Knox offensively to Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, who Martin coached at California.

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“He’s a good coach, he’s a disciplinarian and I’m a disciplinarian dad, so I kind of liked that whole spiel,” Knox Sr. said. “He’d allow him to play. Obviously, with him and Michael Porter, he’s going to allow them to play.”

Two weeks ago, the Knoxes visited Columbia along with Missouri signees Porter Jr. and Blake Harris. Admittedly, Knox Sr. said he was surprised by the school that jumped in on his son late because of Martin’s hiring and Porter Jr.’s commitment.

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“I was actually impressed with the campus, man. We didn’t realize that the amenities that they had were like that,” Knox Sr. said. “The facilities are top notch, and it’s almost like a hidden gem in the Midwest, if you ask me. Columbia is away from St. Louis, so it’s more of a college town.

“Something like that, being in such a secluded neck of the area in the Midwest, and to go there and it be like an oasis it was like, wow. I didn’t know the practice facility and the facility was just so top notch. It was really nice.”

In past weeks, the Knox family has met often to discuss the looming decision. With three or four of those meetings remaining, Knox Sr. said his his last message to his son will be: “Are you comfortable with the decision that you’re going to make? Because ultimately, you’re the person that’s going to have to live with that.”

Knox Sr. remembers his decision, and is appreciative that his parents did not force him to play football at Alabama, Miami, LSU, Georgia or Florida. Why? It allowed him to meet his now wife, Michelle, and without her, he said “there’d be no Knox II.”

That’s why, with just days until his son will come to a conclusion, he’s proud. He’s proud his son is reaching a dream, which explains his current attitude.

“At this point in time, to be honest with you, I really don’t care where my son goes to school,” Knox Sr. said. “I’m very happy with the five schools that he’s selected. If he chooses Missouri, I’m good with it. If he goes to Florida State — obviously being a Florida State alum — I’m good with it. You can’t go wrong with Krzyzewski, the national champion North Carolina Tar Heels and then of course, Kentucky.

“You can’t go wrong with any of them.”