CHICAGO – While North Carolina and Kentucky slugged it out in an Elite Eight heavyweight fight for the ages, Kevin Knox didn’t see a minute of the live game.
Knox spent his Sunday evening at the Quest Multisport Complex in Chicago for the opening practice of the McDonald’s All-American game week.
“It’s a dream come true,” Knox said after the first practice. “Growing up you always watch this game seeing all these great players playing in it and so you just work hard just to get here and get invited because 24 of the top players in the country so it’s definitely a great atmosphere, it’s definitely a great event. I’m glad I’m here.
Knox’s reputation as a gym rat continues to reap dividends, as the work he’s put into his perimeter game was on display in Monday morning’s practice.
The 6-foot-7 forward showed confidence and progress in his jumper, as he consistently knocked down perimeter shots, while making plays with the ball in his hands. Knox has always been known for his versatility and athleticism, but his game is clearly rounding out.
“I’ve been working a lot on my jump shot, some people would say I was 'streaky' so I think that’s something I really worked on,” Knox said. “I got a lot of shots up and it feels so much better than it used to be so I’m definitely more confident now.”
Knox will be spending the majority of the next few weeks in gyms across the country. Following this trip to Chicago, he’ll head to Portland for the Nike Hoop Summit, and then the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn the week after that.
That leaves little time for much else, including recruiting. And that’s why he’s waiting until after these three all-star events to finalize and announce his college decision.
“I think I’m probably going to (announce) right after Jordan Brand because I think after Jordan Brand is my spring break so maybe sometime around then,” he said. “Me and my parents have been talking about that as of late and I think that’s something I will decide after Jordan Brand.”
The Jordan Brand game is on Friday, April 14.
There’s minimal time remaining to meet with his four finalists – Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, and North Carolina – but final in-home visits are being squeezed into Knox’s schedule. Duke was up first a week ago.
“I know some are set with Kentucky and FSU losing pretty early so I’m pretty sure I’ll see them sometime soon,” Knox said. “My parents will probably set that up and then I’m pretty sure North Carolina will come in sometime soon."
The pitches by all four finalists are cemented at this point. FSU says he can start his own legacy. Duke is selling the Jayson Tatum role. Kentucky has emphasized the benefits of playing with an elite roster. For North Carolina, it’s the position and role expected to be vacated by Justin Jackson.
“Justin Jackson pretty much being a first-round pick (has been UNC’s pitch to me)," he said. "They’ve got Theo (Pinson) and Joel (Berry) probably coming back so I’ll come in, play good minutes and be in that role of Justin Jackson being able to score the ball.“
“There’s no one really in my position at North Carolina so I come in and play good minutes and contribute pretty early.
Meanwhile, Knox can’t ignore the in-person recruiting pitches he’s getting from his fellow All-Americans. Duke signees Wendell Carter and Gary Trent, and Kentucky signees Quade Green and Jarred Vanderbilt will be in his ear at all three of these events, and have already begun that role this week in Chicago. UNC signee Jalek Felton will be at the Jordan Brand Classic.
And, time permitting; Knox said he’ll continue to closely observe the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m just watching North Carolina now to see how they do and stay in touch with all (other) three schools.”