Big Blue Notes: Wildcats win with a long shot on Derby Day

Eric Howard is a Calvert City native who lives in Lexington and is a committed UK Wildcat fan. His column 'Big Blue Notes' appears regularly in The Lake News.

Eric Howard is a Calvert City native who lives in Lexington and is a committed UK Wildcat fan. His column ‘Big Blue Notes’ appears regularly in The Lake News.

Five-star forward Kevin Knox decided to announce his collegiate decision on the evening of the Kentucky Derby. If Knox’s recruitment had been a horse race, the Wildcats would have been considered a longshot at best.

In the 247Sports Crystal Ball, Duke was the odds-on favorite with 87% of national recruiting analysts predicting the prized recruit would pick the Blue Devils. In a distant second, North Carolina had 13% of the votes. Knox’s other suitors included Kentucky, Missouri, and Florida State, but none were considered to be serious contenders.

At 6:40 p.m. CST on Saturday evening, however, Kevin Knox shocked the recruiting world by announcing his decision to become a Kentucky Wildcat. The decision caught everyone by surprise including the Kentucky coaching staff. John Calipari and lead recruiter Kenny Payne had gone all out recruiting Knox, but no one gave the Wildcats much of a shot. In the end, however, it was Kenny Payne’s relationship with the family and John Calipari’s player’s first philosophy that won over the Knox family.

The addition of Knox to next season’s roster will have a huge impact. Despite an arsenal of athletic playmakers, the Wildcats lacked a true scorer on the squad. Knox will fill that void and more. At 6-foot-9, Knox has the ability to play on the perimeter and gives John Calipari his first true wing scoring threat in his tenure at Kentucky. The Florida native is a dominant force on the interior, but it’s his ability to knock down the three that has NBA scouts excited. If Hamidou Diallo were to stay in the upcoming NBA draft, it’s not unreasonable to think Knox could even play shooting guard for the Wildcats next season.
An additional bonus with Knox is his close relationship with Mohamed Bamba, John Calipari’s top remaining target. The two players speak several times a week and have discussed teaming up together in college. Bamba, the No. 2 overall player in the class, is down to Kentucky, Texas, and Duke. Kentucky is considered the favorite. If John Calipari were to secure the commitment of the New York native, the Wildcats would have eight of the top 28 players in the class.

If Hamidou Diallo does return to Lexington and the Wildcats add Mohamed Bamba, Kentucky likely becomes the favorite to win the national title next season. Regardless of how the rest of the roster shakes out the commitment of Kevin Knox should give the Big Blue Nation reason to be really excited for next season.

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