It should come as no surprise to college basketball fans that freshmen have come to possess a significant portion of the star power in the sport. Just look at this year’s NBA draft, where the first upperclassman was not selected until Duke sophomore Luke Kennard with 12th pick. So while some returning players will undoubtedly have a major impact in 2017–18 season, it’s important to get to know the new faces who may come to occupy the spotlight.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top 25 incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. We move to the No. 9 overall recruit, Kentucky forward Kevin Knox.
What he means for Kentucky’s recruiting class
Coach John Calipari’s 2017 class features five of the 25 players on this list, and Knox is the best of the group. The 6' 9", 206-pound wing waited until early May to announce his choice of school, and leading up to the big reveal, he offered little to no clue where he’d land. It was an uncharacteristic strategy for a top recruit, and it resulted in a major coup for Kentucky. Really, Knox was the cherry on top of a recruiting class that would have been among the best in the country without him. With him, the Wildcats are the clear No. 1.
How he fits
It certainly didn’t hurt Kentucky to add a such a versatile wing to the mix, let alone a sixth five-star recruit, and Knox should start immediately this fall. Although he’s often listed as a small forward, Calipari said on a conference call in June that he envisions Knox as a shooting guard. And with four starters to replace, Kentucky won’t have any problem finding minutes for the freshman, whose 6' 11" wingspan may be his greatest physical claim to fame.
Kentucky may feature the most talented roster in all of college basketball next fall, although it will be young. Replacing four starters from last season’s Elite Eight team will be a tall task, but with this recruiting class, it doesn’t seem quite so daunting. In fact, Kentucky will have eight former five-star recruits on its roster come fall, and the decision of Hamidou Diallo (who enrolled in January and declared for last spring’s draft) to play a year of college ball figures big. There’s no question that Calipari’s team will be at the top of the SEC, and yet again, it should come as no surprise to see it last deep into March.