Behind The Scenes With Kevin Knox

One of the most recent offers handed out in the class of 2017 was to Florida PF Kevin Knox.  Recently the five star prospect visited Durham for a second time in a month.  We spoke with the prospect’s father to get a recap of the trip and a summary of where this high major recruitment is going.

So how were the travels back home to Florida?

Kevin Knox, Sr, father of Kevin Knox:  Well, we actually traveled back through tonight and that’s how we did it on Thursday, we traveled through the night on Thursday to get up there. One of the reasons we do that is so that when we get there at around 6 in the morning we could head to my wife’s house, rest up, get a shower and then we always go to each campus. It’s really just worked out well to drive through the night and he sleeps then which is his natural habitat and then when we get there—he’s not tired and then we can say we can go to North Carolina for 4 hours and go to Duke for just as much time and then go from there.


Sounds like these visits are highly organized….

I don’t want one coach or even the media to think that you are favoring one program over the other and the coaching staff, it’s really important to us to give them equal billing and equal time. I firmly believe that the only way you really can get to know someone and really trust that person is by spending time with them. So when we did this the first time, I always tried to segment everything, have an itinerary with each coach.


With having that kind of plan to visit both UNC and Duke, what kind of differences have you seen in how the coaches utilized the time you have been able to spend with them?


I would say there’s a lot of similarities and that’s been that way with all the unofficial visits we’ve taken. That includes the unofficial we’ve taken to Miami and the unofficial to Florida State. Of course we’ve gone to North Carolina and to Duke twice each and all of them had those same qualities which is to, number one, sit down with the head coach and get to know the coaching staff. Second, all of them want us to meet the academic advisors and talk about academics. Third, now we’re going to go see the strength coach. Fourth, we go see the dorm rooms, campus life and then finally and this is probably one of the most important things is what the plans are with basketball in terms of practice, skill development, weight training. So when we talk with the strength coach and we talk about the physical strength side, we talk about how are you going to help my son get better? How are you going to take him to another level, how does he fit into your system and what are you going to do if he comes to your school? We do film sessions as well and it’s really been informative on our end.


With those 5 criteria areas you just specified, when you have drilled down with the staffs at Duke and UNC, have you noticed a big difference in both programs pitches’ to Kevin in the details of how they have responded to those questions?

No, there’s really not. When you talk about both coaches hands down, you talk about Coach Roy Williams who is a Hall of Fame Coach, obviously he has a resume.  With Coach K, he’s a Hall of Fame Coach with a resume. You go academics, both of their academics are just really, really high. Although some people may say Duke’s is higher than North Carolina’s, but North Carolina has a great academic foundation and setting. When you talk about basketball teams, Duke just won the national championship and that tradition, North Carolina has tradition and they are a top seed this year. Both of them like to get out and run and when Duke has Brandon Ingram who is very similar to Kevin Knox, Coach Krzyzewski has mentioned names like Jabari Parker, Grant Hill, obviously now Brandon Ingram and you look at Kevin Knox and he could be next in that lineage. Then when we talk about Mike Krzyzewski, you are talking about when he talks to Kevin, he’ll tell him that one of the things we like to do is run transition, spread the floor and he’ll tell me that your son excels at that. He believes that this is where Kevin Knox can excel at and then you look at who Roy Williams has had, he’s obviously had Justin Jackson and others in the past that they would really like to focus on and put the offense around Kevin. It’s really going to be a tough decision because both of them, we ask who are you giving the edge to and at this point, I have no idea and that’s just with talking about UNC and Duke.


Based on what those coaches have shared with you, do you feel there’s a big difference between UNC and Duke in terms of expected role and usage of Kevin at each place from what they have indicated or do you feel that either program is going to utilize him in similar ways?

I think with Kevin’s skill set of him being 6’8 and by the time we get to college and with him only being 16 right now, one of the things that Mike Krzyzewski said to us last night was he’s still developing. You are talking about a 16 year old who two years from now and he really feels that his role could be, he’s positionless. Both coaches have used that word which I thought was interesting because one I’m sure they don’t sit around and talk at the dinner table, but they both said that he’s positionless and he could play anywhere from the 1 to the 2 to the 3 to the 4 or 5 and we’re really happy with someone like that.


With the player comparisons that Duke and UNC made to Kevin with the names you listed, what are your opinions of those comparisons? 

Both coaches when they talk about those players, they are just special—all those players are just extremely special and basically when you talk about having that “it” factor and both coaches have said that your son is extremely special. One thing that Coach Roy Williams said because I asked Coach Roy a question about who on the team right now would you say Kevin is more or less like and he said, “wow, we don’t have a guy that’s probably 6’9, 6’10 like Kevin might be that can dribble the ball, shoot the 3s and just do it all, that’s why he’s so special.” So when you talk about a player of that caliber with those types of skill sets, he’s just in that special category. That’s all you can really say to be honest with you, I think it’s just my job to continue to tell him to focus on hard work, that comes through because that hard work is going to help that talent come through. I use the example of a wide receiver like Jerry Rice, he’s an all-world receiver who if he didn’t work the way that he did his whole career, he probably doesn’t end up being who he ended up as and I just drill that into my son. Hard work plus talent equals success. That’s kinda what I told Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams and they liked that.


In terms of your reaction to what you have heard from Coach K and Coach Williams, what has your feedback and questions to them as they have presented their vision for Kevin in their programs?

One, they have and we established this from the beginning is that I played football at Florida State, I’ve been recruited before, my parents have been in the room with Bobby Bowden, all of these coaches, so we’ve heard these pitches before. I’ve played at the highest levels so for him, it’s a little different and plus I’m a coach with Each 1 Teach 1 and I really haven’t had any questions for them. I’ve just listened to their pitches and they already know what I’m looking for. So we are talking offense and how schematically they are going to use Kevin, we’re talking recruiting, we’re talking like anything else, every coach wants to win a national championship—so that’s what we’re talking about.


How much of an interest are you taking then in who each of those programs are recruiting from Kevin’s class?

I think every good player is always going to look at who you are coming in with because let’s face it, it takes a team to win a national championship. Let’s just look at last year’s with Duke. You are talking about Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Winslow, that’s a pretty nice core group. Even when you look at Kentucky and all that they are bringing in and those players playing together, you need talent to win and so, you can easily go as high as it gets and ask why did LeBron James go to Miami ? He left Cleveland and he assembled with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and they ended up winning rings. So we do look at who people are bringing in, that’s a natural thing. I told Kevin, it’s ok to go out and compete against the best, play with the best and you will win with the best.


There’s been parents over time like you are who have taken an interest in where other top players in their son’s class are looking at going, and then there’s other parents who have progressed beyond that to actually talking and coordinating with parents of top players in their class who their child is being recruited by the same programs. Have you taken that step or is it more just paying attention to who is being publicaly named as being recruited by programs and then discussing that with the coaches?

That’s a good question. I think because of, there is a relationship built with all of the top players because as example—when we go to USA, Wendell Carter is Kevin’s roommate last year. Obviously I’m talking to Wendell’s mom and dad and Michael Porter’s mom and they all know, we all know who each other. We are cordial and we obviously speak, but does it get to the point where we talk about is your son going here or going to this place, no we aren’t doing that, but we will talk about who is recruiting you, where are you going to visit, what are you thinking and really you talk about the AAU circuit and then you read the blogs like everybody else. But we do know who everyone is.


USA Basketball has afforded those interaction opportunities but it also affords the opportunity for top players like your son and many others to both play with each other and against each other. Is how they either play together or could play together in college role wise a topic of conversations amongst the parents?

I think that’s a natural thing just because as an example, with Wendell, his parents are like “we love playing with Kevin” and I’m like, “we love playing with Wendell”.  I remember him playing with Jayson Tatum like in the pickups after practice. When you play with other high caliber players—obviously that accentuates your own talent and all the talent and I think everybody can appreciate that, especially at the USA team. It just makes you look that much better when you do certain, specific things like run the floor, big men you look down low and then you cut for a pass, things like that. I think everybody likes that.


Is Duke or UNC or any college program recruiting Kevin also discussing with you guys how they feel Kevin potentially fits along with other guys from his class?

Me being an aggressive parent, I’ll ask questions about that.  For instance, with Duke, I’ll ask “did you recruit Andrew Wiggins” and “did you recruit Karl Anthony-Towns”. I ask those questions so I can learn but I have asked those questions specifically regarding players in Kevin’s own class. I know what my son is capable of doing so it really doesn’t matter what the top guys do, like as an example, you look at Michael Porter, he’s the only player at the shooting forward position that’s rated higher than Kevin, so if Michael Porter and Kevin ended up on the same team together, great, but I try to teach my son to be ready to compete at all times. I saw Kentucky, we’re all enamored by Kentucky when we saw that they all played together and almost won it.


Do you think Kevin’s role in college is going to depend on who he comes in with? 

No, I think when you start getting up in that caliber of player, I think they in of themselves bring something special and unique to the table, period. It would be awesome if you could…think about what the media would do if you had Trevon Duval, Wendell Carter, DeAndre Ayton, Kevin Knox and Michael Porter all sign with one school? You see what I’m saying, does that mean that Wendell Carter and Kevin Knox couldn’t get along together and play together, no, that would be a championship team and that’s something that Kentucky almost had. If you end up on the same team with any of those guys, then it’s time to try and go win a championship. Remember now, I played with those teams with Bobby Bowden, we were the team of the 90s and I won a national championship and at Florida State, we didn’t rebuild, we reloaded. They were always bringing in the best, so, that’s what I’ve always told my son as he’s looked at Florida State over the years football wise, there’s going to be talent there every single year and that’s how you gotta think about it with your decision, you just gotta go in and play.


So with Kevin in college, do you see his best role is a true wing or a forward who gets to be on the perimeter and in the post?

Now, I would say that all the coaches from Bill Self to Jay Wright to Mike Krzyzewski to Kevin Knox Sr to Roy Williams to Leonard Hamilton to Jim Larranaga, all of them have pretty much said the same thing. When you have someone like Kevin, you use him like how guys like Kevin Durant, LeBron James are used. You can use him as a wing because he can dribble the ball, but if he has a big guy on him, you pull him out to the wing. Now if you put somebody who is 6 ft 2 on him, you go to the post and clear out while he has the height advantage. So I like what all of those coaches have said about how they would use someone like Kevin. You gotta remember, not many people can actually shoot the 3, dribble the basketball, play the 2 and play the stretch 4, all in the same play.


So it sounds like you are hearing similar things from all these coaches and you are liking what you are hearing so far. I’m sure there’s going to be a point in time where you guys get down to having to decide on which of those programs you like better.  Once you progress to the point of deciding on that, what are you going to be paying attention to narrow things down since right now you indicated you are liking what you are hearing from all the coaches?

You know for Kevin, and I asked him this, I’ve always known people over the years who have gone through this process who have insight—so we’ll ask, what’s the deal, when are we going to narrow this down? So  we looked at maybe narrowing it down after the EYBL season and I’ll tell Kevin, the only thing I want you worrying about until then is your academics and just go out and just play. You can talk to the coaches, we have had to setup a time for him to do that so he can get to know them and when you are ready, go ahead and narrow it down. It’s still up in the air with that stuff. I think he’s going to narrow it down after EYBL season and then after we narrow it down, we’ll start getting serious at that point in time. Those factors that I talked about before, we’ll see how those really, really relate to him personally.


Are you finding yourself having more conversations in terms of length and amount with any programs at this point?

I’ve always set it up that the coaches would come through me first and then based on my conversations with my son, we would allow the coaches to speak with him and try to develop a relationship with him. Based on this point in time, I’m still talking to the coaches because at the end of the day I’ve told him that I have to be very comfortable with where and who my son plays for and obviously Kevin does as well. So we’re doing both, they are calling Kevin and they are calling me.


How much will your opinion of programs and coaches be looked to by Kevin to help form how he feels about them as the recruiting process continues?

You know that’s a good question. You kinda say you raise up a child and once you raise up your child, you hope they will make good decisions once they leave the house. My wife and I have raised up little Kevin that he’s going to make a really good decision, for himself. This is not at the end of the day about me telling him where to go because my dad did the same thing with me with Florida State. He told me that you are the one getting the scholarship and you are the one who will have to live there. You may find your wife there, you may end up living in that state, in that city, you make your own decision. So my wife and I, we both have decided that that’s what we’re going to do with our son. He’s going to make his own decision on who he feels most comfortable with as far as the relationship goes with the coach. When he makes that decision, I’m telling you right now, he could say I’m ready to go to USC or to North Carolina or to Duke or Florida State or wherever, we’re going to be supportive of that because we have a great relationship with our son. The key he knows is that we’re ok with him making that decision.


With you guys being so proactive with unofficial visits, are there are any further unofficial visits that need to be happen before you guys feel comfortable in deciding on what programs he’s going to visit officially?

It’s funny you ask that question because yesterday I asked one of the coaches at the Duke game on really what the differences are between an unofficial visit and an official visit other than you guys paying for the flight, or paying for the food? It’s good to think about because during these unofficial visits, you really get to see everything but you just have to pay for it as opposed to the official visit where you aren’t paying anything. So I think unofficial visits are really important and here’s why. If you remember to earlier, at the end of the day the only way you can really trust someone is if you spend time with them. So that’s very, very important to us. That’s why I think these unofficial visits are so important for us because you have to spend time with people in order to trust them.


With you having spent some solid time on visits with programs like Florida State and Miami and Duke and North Carolina, do you feel like there are more visits you need to take to other programs recruiting Kevin to build that relationship the way it sounds like you guys have with those programs?

You know I was speaking with my wife about that a few guys ago and we want to see some more of other schools if the opportunity presents itself. Like through the AAU travels we’re going to be out and about, so for example when we go up to New York City for the first EYBL session, that could be an opportunity potentially for us to visit Philadelphia which would be Villanova. When we go to wherever, like if we went out to LA, we might visit USC so he can see what the practice facility is like, what the campus is like, what the arena is like because everywhere we go, we always shoot in the arena for at least an hour. Yesterday we got a chance to talk in Cameron Indoor, we always shoot there whenever we go and we always do a workout at the Dean Center. Florida State, Miami, we love to shoot when we are there so that’s important.


Once you guys progress to a Top 10 or Top 5, and if all these visits plans end up happening, do you think it’s important that he takes all five official visits?

I do think it’s important to take all those official visits even if you took all those unofficial visits and here’s the reason why. At the end of everything, you just want to hear that last everything, that last pitch from the coach basically. I think they get 7 home visits and you just want to hear, ok, I’m here on the official visit and I only get 5 of these for all my life—so tell me the last pitch Coach, the final spiel. If they have to reiterate something, then reiterate it because that would be it at that point.


At that stage of the game is it also important for you guys to see where other top guys in his class are going as a part of Kevin’s decision-making process?

I really don’t think so. I think when you are a top 10 guy, I don’t see why DeAndre Ayton would be looking at where Wendell Carter is going. I don’t think Michael Porter should be trying to find out where Kevin Knox is potentially committing to go to school and I don’t think Kevin should be doing the same. You are a difference-maker at the end of the day, you are what they call a game-changer in college, so at the end of the day, you need to pick where you are going to go to help that team win a championship and you are just hoping at that particular time that other people will want to join you. I think that’s how I feel, I’m not worried about where other guys are going to school, we’re picking this based on Kevin Knox and where he may find his future wife, where he can get a good education, where he’s going to live after because that’s the way my wife and I looked at it with Florida State.

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