Five-star recruit Kevin Knox announced his commitment Saturday night. The small forward star made his decision public on Twitter, of course, just one day after announcing where and when his announcement would come using the same website.
Welcome to 2017.
To his credit, the Riverview, Florida (near Tampa) native who is touted as one of the best players in the Class of 2017 at least stuck to the date once he publicized it, as isn’t always the case.
To the dismay of both Tar Heel and Blue Devil fans, Knox will play at the University to Kentucky.
Admittedly, I’m not up on my ‘crootin. But John Calipari seems to be king of new-age, (overly) hyped recruiting battles — especially when the comparative postseason performances are accounted for. UK’s win in the recruiting realm hasn’t panned out in the NCAA Tournament quite like it looked like it might at times, but high schoolers simply don’t seem to care.
Yes, the Wildcats showed emotion after losing in the NCAA Tournament this year that mirrored that of UNC’s own when it lost in the 2016 National Title game.
I’m not knocking any player’s level of passion for the game or desire to win, but incoming kids seem primarily concerned with track records that prove they’ll easily move on to the NBA and secondarily interested in appearances in National Title games.
Players planning to compete in college ball for a season and bounce on out have a proven habit of picking the Wildcats. If Cal isn’t the recruiting king (though his on-podium press conference habits would argue he is), surely he is the undisputed king of appealing to flashy, one-and-done players.
Knox also had Florida State, which just finished a record best season under 15-year head coach Leonard Hamilton, and Missouri in his final five schools, but experts seemed to think one of North Carolina’s schools would land him.
Even on the heels (excuse the pun) of North Carolina’s National Title run, during which Roy Williams’ team beat Calipari’s, Knox opted for Kentucky.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski won out against UK and Carolina (plus Kansas and UCLA) on Kinston’s Brandon Ingram. Then Harry Giles’ decision to head to Durham put yet another feather in K’s recruiting cap as he again beat out the team down the road and the best one in the SEC (plus Kansas, again, and Wake Forest) again. But Krzyzewski didn’t win this time around, not even after Jayson Tatum’s successful solo season and Giles’ as-expected exit finished last year’s best recruiting class.
But if Twitter is what holds the truth (at least for this decision), Knox’s pick was an unexpected one in isolation, even in following somewhat of a trend. After his announcement, my timeline flooded with reactions from people who all seemed varying degrees of surprised by the chosen option.
It is what it is, surely the teams in the Triangle will be just fine. The rosters at Duke at UNC will both be enticing and the teams both have potential to contend in the ACC and NCAA without Knox.
But here’s my two cents: Are we really surprised that a kid with more than 25,000 Twitter followers, no North Carolina roots and a clear love for making a show of things on social media opted to play for the Hall of Fame coach who celebrated the announcement with a hoverboard cell phone video instead of the two Hall of Fame coaches who don’t even have Twitter?
Someone retweeted Cal’s response to the news onto my timeline and I’m forever thankful. It’s entertaining and funny and weird, but to me it stands out because it feels like the perfect piece of proof that Knox will go play for a coach whose culture, interests and personality align better with the player than the other two’s do.
I know most recruits have a propensity to use Twitter for such things (especially in football) and that social media isn’t everything. I’m also aware that every kid who loves Twitter can’t be categorized the same way … but, it seems like a fit.
From a (recruiting) outsider’s standpoint looking in, Cal’s appeal to short-sighted, #trendy, (*tries hard not to say self-obsessed*) and extraordinarily talented high schoolers seems really simple.
But, what do I know ¯_(ツ)_/¯.