As is usually the case, the Kentucky Wildcats were featured in the biggest recruiting storylines of the 2017 class.
Thankfully, it was mostly in favor of UK, including the recruitment of Kevin Knox. The five-star wing was widely expected to pick an ACC school leading up to his decision — most likely Duke — before he shocked everyone and said “Big Blue Nation.”
That was among ESPN’s biggest storylines of the 2017 recruiting class.
Most surprising commitment: Kevin Knox, Kentucky. Knox’s recruitment was never easy to handicap after the opening few months. Duke opened as the leader, but Florida State made up strong ground and North Carolina also made a push in the spring. For a couple of weeks, it even looked like Missouri had a legitimate chance to land the five-star forward. Down the stretch, there was one school no one saw landing Knox: Kentucky. The Wildcats were involved throughout his entire recruitment, but they already had multiple combo-type forwards and seemed content with their frontcourt. Even in the days leading up to his May commitment, Knox appeared to be heading elsewhere. But when Knox made his announcement, it was Big Blue Nation that was celebrating.
Knox picking UK was easily one of the biggest surprises of the John Calipari era, and it helped lock up another top-ranked recruiting class. And without Knox, next season’s team would have a major hole in the scoring department. Knox is talented enough to not only be UK’s leading scorer next season, but also one of the best players in college basketball.
One other storyline UK played a major part in was that of Quade Green. The five-star point guard was once viewed as a heavy Syracuse lean, but UK was able to land him. That turned out to be a massive get for Calipari, as Green is not only the projected starting point guard for next season, but he also helped recruit a large portion of UK’s top-ranked signing class.
Oh, and it also helped that UK had to beat out Duke as well.
Biggest miss: Quade Green, Syracuse. This one seemed to line up perfectly for Jim Boeheim and the Orange. Green came out of the summer looking like Duke’s primary point guard target, and the Blue Devils were clearly making him a priority. But an August unofficial visit to Syracuse changed things, and the Orange were suddenly in the driver’s seat for Green. A handful of other unofficial visits to the Orange campus seemed to solidify the idea that he was Syracuse’s to lose. As Green’s commitment neared, though, things began to swing Kentucky’s way -- and the Wildcats landed him on decision day in late November. By this time, nearly every impact point guard was already off the board, and Syracuse still needed one. The Orange ended up with four-star prospect Howard Washington, who will have to play a major role right away in Syracuse’s backcourt next season.
UK would have been in a world of hurt had Green gone elsewhere. You could make an argument he was the biggest get for UK in this class, considering what his impact on next year’s team will be in addition to his recruiting efforts.