When you're the biggest name in a recruiting class compiled by John Calipari for the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, that's truly saying something. After all, nobody is unfamiliar with the idea that Calipari treats his team more like a one-year prep program for the NBA, as opposed to a cultivate-and-wait college basketball program.
So, the fact that forward Kevin Knox was the headline recruit of (yet another) loaded recruiting class for Calipari in 2017 bears noting. The 6-foot-9 combo forward from Tampa, Florida was a McDonald's All-American who ran the floor like a gazelle and leaped like a kangaroo. He could throw down lobs and clean the defensive glass with this combination of size and hops, and with a developing (but smooth) stroke on his jump shot, scouts saw potential for him as a coveted "stretch 4" in the NBA.
But like everything else in today's world, what Knox truly brings to the table is versatility. Play him as a shooting power forward? No problem; he's drawn favorable comparisons to someone like Tobias Harris -- someone who's already played in the NBA for six seasons, and will easily last another six or more because of his ability to shoot the ball. Use him more as a dive man off a pick-and-roll? Also no problem. Knox has shown a very good ability to finish around the rim with either hand, maneuver himself around defenders in the paint, and/or pull up for a midrange jumper.
Need him to stay on the floor during clutch possessions? He can do that too; with his length (a wingspan just under seven feet), athleticism, and lateral quickness, and the right coaching in place, he could guard four different positions (a virtual must in today's "switch-happy" NBA defensive schemes).
In fairness, all of this is "the glass is half-full" projection. The other side of this is whether Knox is another iteration of Jeff Green: someone who has average to above-average skills in several areas but doesn't really excel in any of them, and doesn't have a true position to play in the NBA.
He'll have to get away from settling for the mid-range jump shot, and either commit to being a shooter or a roll guy (or both). Whoever gets him will have to teach him how to truly commit to defense (a criticism for many of Calipari's "versatile" players coming out of Lexington). Put more simply: he, and the team who takes him, will have to determine whether his future is being a stretch four, an "oversized" wing, or a post player. He's capable of doing all three, but he'll have to focus on one area he can contribute immediately, and round out his game with the other parts.
But NBA teams don't seem worried about that. The recent rumors suggest Knox could go somewhere in the middle of the draft lottery, perhaps as high as sixth overall to the Orlando Magic or seventh overall to Chicago Bulls; it's believed that the New York Knicks, at #9 overall, really like him as well.
Few people doubt what he can become at the NBA level. They just have to figure out what he will be first.