BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Kevin Knox II was Tampa Catholic’s starting quarterback as a sophomore and was in line to start again for the Crusaders as a junior this past season when he gave up the sport to concentrate on basketball.
His father, a former All-State receiver for Niceville, Fla., who played on Florida State’s 1993 national championship team, wasn’t disappointed in the move. At 6-8, Kenny II would be a rarity in college football, but according to Kenny Sr., it wasn’t his son’s height that directly concerned him.
“It was really more his shoe size,” Kenny Sr. said. “You don’t see any quarterbacks with a size-18 shoe. Brock Osweiler is 6-7 and Dan Quinn was 6-8, so you have tall quarterbacks. Peyton Manning was 6-6, Cam Newton is 6-6, but probably they don’t have size-18 shoes. Probably at 16 years old, Kenny’s going to end up being 6-10.”
This past week, the younger Knox showed further proof that basketball should be his sport. Already the No. 6 player in the 2017 class according to 247Sports.com’s Composite rankings, he led E1T1 United to a 2-1 record in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League session at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, averaging 21.7 points. 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists.
Because of his quickness and outside shooting, he’s seen as a possible off guard or small forward at the next level, though he’s athletic enough to guard any position.
“I’ve shown that I can play an all-around game, inside and out,” Knox said. “That’s something about my game, the versatility, the ability to do anything.”
Big-name programs are visiting the junior. Kentucky has an in-home visit set for Monday. North Carolina is coming in on Tuesday. Duke, which visited last week, and Florida State are also contenders.
Knox said giving up football has allowed him to concentrate on being stronger for basketball.
“A lot of coaches tell me I should work on my strength,” Knox said. “In the last couple of months, I’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room. A lot of coaches want me to work on getting contact and going in there and finishing with contact, so that’s why I’ve worked on my upper-body strength.”
Knox played last summer for USA Basketball’s team that won the FIBA Americas U16 championship in Argentina, as he averaged 10.6 points and 4.6 rebounds a game. That helped his confidence going into this past season at Tampa Catholic, where he was the state 4A Player of the Year while averaging 29.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game for the 26-5 Crusaders.
“There were a lot of coaches (at USA Basketball),” Knox said. “They taught me a lot of things that I didn’t know before. They saw that I had good potential and they worked me hard. When we got to Argentina, the coaches pushed me to attack. USA (Basketball) really helped me out a lot.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter at @jimhalley