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UK Basketball: Kevin Knox NBA Draft Decision Roundtable

Breaking down what Kevin Knox returning to UK would mean and predictions on his final call.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Buffalo vs Kentucky Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly the whole season, we have assumed Kevin Knox will be headed to the NBA after one season in a Kentucky uniform.

But now, reports continue coming out with interviews from Knox’s father that his son is “genuinely torn” between leaving for the NBA, where he is projected by most as a lottery pick, and staying at Kentucky, where he could be a leader on a team that would be a preseason Final Four contender.

Knox’s decision could really come at any time, but it is expected that it will be no later than this week. With the decision looming, we have gathered our staff to offer their predictions on what Knox will do, and what it could mean for him and the Kentucky Wildcats moving forward.

Mike Whitlow

This has become such an interesting bullet point for Kentucky in recent days, and I think Kevin Knox staying would be absolutely massive for Kentucky next season.

If (and a major emphasis on “if”) he stays, he’ll start again on the wing with an incoming Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley and a likely returning Quade Green. That’s some scoring right there (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t a lock to leave, but I personally think he does).

Even still, Kentucky is going to be a polar opposite of what they were shooting the ball this season with a Knox return, which would be huge. Knox is a straight bucket-getter and another season in Lexington would benefit him greatly for the other aspects of his game.

There’s still a part of me personally that thinks a surefire lottery pick should leave school because I’m always #TeamGetTheseKidsPaid and I want to see these kids live out their dreams. You can thank Coach Cal for that.

Still, Knox is a lottery selection if he leaves.

If I had to pick whether or not he stays, would it really shock any of us if Knox shocks the world like he did with his commitment to Kentucky and stays for a sophomore season?

Prediction: I think Knox does it again and returns for one more season to not only boost his stock up further, but also try and win Kentucky’s ninth title.

Brian Joyce

It’s insane that we are even having this discussion right now. Knox may ultimately decide to go, but the fact that he is strongly considering a return to Lexington is unlike any decision we have seen in the Calipari era.

Other blue blood programs have benefited from lottery picks coming back for one more year, but the basketball gods rarely seem to shine on Kentucky in that regard. Think about it for a minute. Daniel Orton, Dakari Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere, DeAndre Liggins… these were all guys who most fans thought would return.

There have been few surprises over the years that went the other way (with a player surprising folks and coming back when the general consensus had him leaving). If Knox comes back, I think he needs to work on attacking the basket.

According to, only 21.6 percent of his field goal attempts came at the rim. He’s a good catch and shoot guy, but he needs to develop a stronger post game and the ability to take opponents off the dribble. And if he really locks in on defense, I think he becomes a top five draft pick in the 2019 draft.

I never would have considered Knox returning a week ago, but where there’s smoke there’s fire. I think if Knox wanted to leave, his name would already be in the draft.

Prediction: The fact that Knox is struggling with the decision makes me think Knox comes back for another season to improve his draft stock and help Kentucky cut down the nets.

Jamie Boggs

Kevin Knox coming back to Kentucky would change everything. A Calipari-coached Kentucky team has NEVER returned its leading scorer the following season. And looking at the makeup of next year’s squad, Knox is just what that team will be missing: a forward that can shoot.

The Wildcats will be a very good team without him next year, but they could be a monster team if he returns. Knox playing alongside Keldon Johnson would be a dangerous combination, and it would make the offense virtually unguardable if PJ Washington returns and makes the strides that everyone expects.

I really believe that Knox has been torn about coming back, and that is not normally the case when a guy is slated to go in the lottery. However, I think his family decides that it’s best for him to go ahead and make the jump.

Prediction: NBA

Tyler Cox

Kevin Knox is in a very interesting predicament right now. Come back to Kentucky, maybe win a title, or go the NBA and chase a lifelong dream. Most of the time if you’re a surefire lottery pick like Knox is, you just go.

That said, Knox has an opportunity very similar to what Terrence Jones had back in 2011. Jones was able to come back, win a National Championship and improve his draft stock. Knox is in the same boat, especially with how weak the draft is for next year.

On top of that, Calipari told Knox and his family that he should come back and improve his draft stock. I believe the Knox family values Cal’s opinion.

Prediction: I say Kevin Knox comes back to Kentucky (and possibly Gilgeous-Alexander sees that and comes back too).

Zac Oakes

Very few guys at Kentucky have passed up a lottery selection in order to return for a sophomore year. Then again, Knox’s situation is a little different. He doesn’t need to turn pro for financial reasons.

A sophomore Knox would be a big deal. We know he has a high ceiling, and with a year under his belt, we could see him take a major leap and contend for SEC Player of the Year on a Final Four-caliber team.

He fits well with the makeup of next year’s team and would give the group a go-to scorer, a role he was supposed to have this year but struggled in at times. Next year, I think a sophomore Knox would thrive in that role.

Prediction: I know he’s genuinely torn, but I think the allure of being a lottery pick is too much and Knox enters the NBA Draft.

Adam Haste

When the buzzer sounded, and the season came to an end most people believed one thing was certain: Kevin Knox would be headed to NBA Draft. Now, it seems like there is a real shot Kentucky gets the star freshman back for his sophomore season.

If Cal is able to get him back, next season could be a special one to say the least. Knox could be the missing piece that the team will need next year and would be a scary 1-2 punch with him and Keldon Johnson on the wings. I believe Knox and Cal both think that a second season in college could take Knox from a 10-20 pick to a top-five pick.

If he should choose to return it would be one of the biggest returns of the Calipari era and the biggest since Terrence Jones in 2012 and the Harrison twins in 2015.

Prediction: Knox will ultimately decide to return for his sophomore season

Shane Shackelford

Most high-profile freshmen come to the University of Kentucky with the idea of playing one good season and moving on to the NBA.

But Kevin Knox is different. Much different.

If we look back it’s obvious that his whole setup is different. While being recruited, it seemed like Knox was going a myriad of other locales besides the LEX. So, when decision day came, many were shocked when Knox picked Kentucky. Knox and his family felt like UK was the place for him to grow and develop. We thought it would be a year. We thought.

Knox had a really good freshman year by all accounts, good enough to be heralded as a lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Then, Kevin Knox Sr. got interviewed. Knox and his family, as we found out, are much different. His family believes in the growth of Kevin Jr. much more than a cool suit and a flat billed cap on draft night.

The Knox’s don’t need Kevin Jr. to go pro right now and do the whole grown up thing. They want to see him grow up and develop as a young man. Maybe this comes from Kevin Sr’s career as a D1 wideout at Florida State.

Prediction: With this in mind, I feel like Kevin Knox Jr. will return to Lexington for his sophomore year.

Andrew Galayda

Kevin Knox is giving a glimmer of hope to UK fans. A decision will come by Friday per his father, but it could come at any moment.

With that being said, I think even though the 2019 draft class is considered weak, Knox will elect to forgo his sophomore season to play in the NBA. Mock drafts have him ranging in the back half of the lottery currently, so fans can’t blame a kid for following his dreams.

Hopefully I’m wrong and Knox will try to bring title number nine back to Lexington next year. We will soon learn his fate in the coming days.

Prediction: NBA

Alec Usleaman

Kevin Knox is an extremely talented player, and everyone can see that he would go high in this draft. The only problem with him going to the draft this season is the depth this class has. His stock has dipped a bit throughout the season because of the Wildcats underachieving in the regular season. In recent mock drafts, it looks as if he may fall out of the top 10.

Being drafted top 10 may not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge when it comes to the amount of money you’ll receive on your rookie deal. Knox is a smart kid and he sees that the 2019 class has nowhere near the talent that this year does. If he could stay one more season to develop his game, show the scouts what he’s really made of, while also joining a much weaker class, he could potentially be a top 5 pick.

Personally, I would love to see Kevin back in Lexington for one more season, but I am also very supportive of the Coach Cal narrative to get them in, get them out, and get them paid. Whatever he chooses will be the right choice for not only him but also his family.

Prediction: I think Knox will ultimately decide that if he waits for next year’s draft he could help his family that much more financially. He will stay and it will come with a surprise twist. His number two, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be coming back with him for the same reasons.

I do believe that Shai may have postponed his announcement to wait for Kevin’s. They could be planning a return together, and that would be huge for the team trying to contend for the title next season.

Greg Goins

Kevin Knox is projected by many experts as an NBA lottery pick, and that means he’ll most likely get the green light from his inner circle. However, John Calipari has made a strong pitch for a return to the Bluegrass.

What could Knox gain by coming back for a sophomore season? With all of his success this year, there are still some serious red flags that must be considered as NBA teams look to finalize draft boards. Knox is a good shooter and certainly has the size and athleticism to play at the next level.

However, he’s a weak ball handler and has a long way to go before he can guard elite NBA talent. At this point, the biggest decision might come down to playing under the bright lights of Rupp Arena or honing his skills in the obscurity of the G-League. (He might want to have a long talk with Derek Willis).

With a supportive family by his side, Knox is under no pressure to leave for NBA riches, and he just might be that can’t-miss “one and done” that returns to UK.

Prediction: Knox stays.

Drew Brown

Two weeks ago, I would have laughed at the thought of Kevin Knox returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season. But now, a strong case is being made for Knox to potentially improve his draft stock by coming back to join what is expected to be a much weaker 2019 draft class.

It was—and still is—hard for me imagine a player projected as high as Knox choosing to return to school and risk injury. The Kentucky fan in me obviously wants to see him return and dominate college basketball.

A sophomore Kevin Knox joining forces with other returning players and the incoming freshman would be a team with all the pieces to win a national championship. If this week has done nothing else, it has given me high hopes.

The realist in me says that there is no way Knox can pass up the opportunity to remain in the draft. Nearly every projection has him firmly in the lottery. It is hard to get much more security than that.

Prediction: Kevin Knox will go to the draft.

Ian Teasley

With speculation that Kevin Knox may return back to Lexington for his sophomore season, one can’t help but get excited thinking about all of the possibilities for next year’s team.

Knox averaged 15.6 points per game this past season, adding in 5.4 rebound per game as well. But yet, I still think we have not yet seen the best of Knox in a Kentucky uniform.

Knox went through some rough patches this past season where he struggled to score and seemed to be passive on the offensive side of the ball. He also struggled on the defensive end as well, which makes one wonder whether or not he would get abused on defense in the NBA, or if coming back for another year of college and polishing his game where it needs it is what is best for him.

We know that Coach Cal has made the case for Knox to come back, which he only really has done to players if he really thinks a second year would improve their draft stock (Terrence Jones and Willie Cauley-Stein). It’s not often that Cal wants a star player to actually come back instead of sending them to the league, but when he advocates for it, he’s usually right.

That being said, that money is just too good to pass up in my opinion. With Knox being a projected lottery pick, I think Knox is headed to the league. I would love for Knox to have another season in Lexington, but I sadly just don’t think it happens.

Prediction: NBA

John Francis-Morgan

Kevin Knox, if he declares for the draft, is certainly a lock to land in the lottery. After the first 4-5 picks, the draft thins out quickly as far as NBA-ready prospects. Knox is far from ready, but has every right to leave early.

With that being said, he has every right to return to Kentucky as well. Not only would Knox have another crack at a championship, but he would also have a great chance at improving his draft stock.

Knox, if he returns, would likely join Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Wenyen Gabriel in a veteran front court. Not to mention he’d add two five-star recruits in Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson, as well four-star recruit and lights-out shooter Tyler Herro. Quade Green is also expected to make a return for his sophomore season.

That would give Kentucky a nine-man rotation, six being a sophomore or older. A veteran presence is something Kentucky fell short of this season, but Knox could be the veteran leader himself next season.

Getting to his draft stock, Knox could improve a lot from this season. His defense was average to not very good and his ball handling/play making could also get better. Another year with Calipari and that would certainly be possible.

If Knox comes back and has a stronger campaign than this year, he’d absolutely rise into the top 5-6 range of next year’s draft. In what’s expected to be a very weak 2019 draft class, Knox could possibly make up to $3-4 million more per year if he waits.

We’ve seen Calipari do this before with Terrence Jones and Willie Cauley-Stein. Can he surprise Big Blue Nation again?

Prediction: Knox returns for his sophomore season