Heels Lead for Knox

After spending Sunday and Monday officially visiting Chapel Hill, Alabama transfer Justin Knox is now favoring North Carolina as his destination of choice with less than two weeks to go before making his final decision.

Knox's uncle, Darien, is helping his nephew with the transfer process and he spoke with Inside Carolina about the official visit to UNC as the pair traveled back to Alabama on Tuesday evening.

"When we got there Sunday, we got a chance to meet the entire staff," Knox said. "Everybody got a chance to know each other better. He got a chance to go out to dinner with the coaching staff and he enjoyed that. On Monday, he got a chance to play a little pickup ball and he enjoyed that – he played well. And then we got a chance to see the academic side of things. We just got the whole complete tour."

After the visit, North Carolina has emerged as the leader for Knox's services over Georgia Tech, South Alabama, Georgia State and Southern Miss. The Tuscaloosa, Ala. native has confirmed scholarship offers from all five schools.

"There's no doubt that North Carolina is leading the pack," Knox said. "From the information I get from him and from what we've discussed, how can they not lead the pack?"

Conversations with the UNC coaching staff have confirmed that Knox could be a significant piece of the Tar Heels' puzzle in 2010-11.

"Coach [Roy] Williams told us that he's just not looking for a body – he's looking for somebody that can come in and help him," Knox said. "He plays players. If you're on scholarship at North Carolina, you're going to have to play… Coach Williams said they want him and they need him."

Knox, who averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season, received his official release from Alabama in April and will be eligible for one year at a new program next season after graduating in three years. Alabama restricted the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder's release to (1) in-state schools in the university system, (2) SEC opponents and (3) any program on the Tide's schedule in 2010-11.

The family appealed the decision on Thursday morning, but found out their appeal had been denied on Monday afternoon via email.

"It's disappointing, but there's nothing we can do about it," Knox said about the appeal denial. "Justin's got to stay focused on the schools that are showing him a strong interest and evaluate them and then move on. The Alabama situation – we may decide to fight it, we may not… He wanted to be closer to home because of his fiancé and his daughter, but Alabama is really not going to let that be a factor."

Justin plans to announce his school of choice sometime over the next two weeks.

"He's going to make a decision before summer school starts, which is June 1st," Knox said. "I'm sure he's going to make his decision before then. He's visited the schools that were outside of the ones covered in the release letter, so he's got a pretty good group of schools to make a decision from, of course, with UNC leading the pack."

Knox will have to take classes in both summer school sessions to graduate with a degree in business management before he will be able to enroll at his next destination for the fall semester. Once he decides on a school, he will then dive into the different graduate programs available to him that meet his release requirements.

The NCAA dead period begins May 20th at midnight and runs through May 28th. When asked if his nephew was done taking visits before making his decision, Knox replied, "I would say that's safe to say. It opens back up the 29th and 30th, so he might make a visit then, but with you asking me that right now, I would doubt it."

Stay tuned to Inside Carolina for more on this developing story.

Inside Carolina Top Stories