Class of 17: No. 14 Tampa Catholic (Fla.) forward Kevin Knox

Class of 17: No. 14 Tampa Catholic (Fla.) forward Kevin Knox

The Class of 17

Class of 17: No. 14 Tampa Catholic (Fla.) forward Kevin Knox

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Kevin Knox once doubled as an elite quarterback. (Photo: Jon Lopez/Nike)

Kevin Knox once doubled as an elite quarterback. (Photo: Jon Lopez/Nike)

ATHLETE PROFILE:
Name: Kevin Knox
School: Tampa Catholic (Tampa, Fla.)
Sport: Boys Basketball
Position: Forward

Kevin Knox is a long, wiry wing with a steady jump shot, a relentless motor, the ability to defend all five positions and a first step that allows him to dominate even the quickest of defenders on the hardwood.

And, yet, none of those attributes and skills top the list of what he feels is most special about his game.

“I think it’s my basketball IQ,” Knox said. “I think the game through; that’s a big advantage for me.”

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The on-court intelligence is rooted in his ability to see things develop beforehand, almost as if he had a sixth sense. It’s also what made him an intriguing quarterback prospect a couple of years ago.

The 6-foot-7 star last played quarterback as a sophomore for the Crusaders.

He threw for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns in a read-option system and was picking up interest from Miami, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Pittsburgh and Georgia.

“A lot of people thought that football was gonna be my ticket,” Knox said. “But basketball is my first love. I stopped playing football after I started picking up more offers in basketball. I knew it was the right decision.”

His “who’s who” list of potentially college suitors certainly strengthens that claim.

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Knox, who is ranked No. 7 overall in the ESPN 100, recently cut his list to Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Duke, Villanova, Miami, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Arizona.

Putting 100 percent of his focus on the hardwood also resulted in the most dominant basketball season of his career.

Last year, Knox averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds for the Crusaders.

Last month he won his second gold medal with USA Basketball, this time with the U17 National Team chipping in with eight points, four steals and three rebounds in a 96-56 win over Turkey in the championship game.

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“He reads the game well,” ESPN recruiting director Paul Biancardi said. “He’s got great size and he uses it efficiently. He knows where to go, what to do, when to score, when not to and he makes the right passes. He’s just a guy who makes the right play for the situation.”

Knox spent countless hours, when he’d usually be at football practice, perfecting the flaws in his game.

“A lot of the coaches that were recruiting me for basketball told me the things that I needed to work on and I put time in the gym,” Knox said. “That really paid off because my ball handling and my jump shot really improved. I do miss football, but to see the hard work paying off feels good.”

Be that as it may, don’t think for a second that Knox feels as if he’s arrived.

Quite on the contrary.

“I feel like I’ve got so much to prove,” Knox said. “It’s an honor to be on this list, but I want to be No. 1. In the basketball rankings there are a lot of guys I feel I should be ranked higher than so I want to prove people wrong. My ultimate goal is to pay my parents back. They’ve done so much for me, sacrificing to help me pursue my dreams. I want to be able to take care of them so I’ve got work to do.”

Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY

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