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Kevin Knox Reminds Kenny Payne Of Kevin Durant Because Of His Mu - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Kevin Knox Reminds Kenny Payne Of Kevin Durant Because Of His Multiple Skills

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By LARRY VAUGHT

By the time he was in the eighth grade, Kevin Knox Jr. was wearing either a size 14 or 15 shoe — and his father paid $200 for a pair of shoes for him for the first time.

“But I still had a growth spurt or two left in me,” said the Kentucky freshman. “That’s what happened to football.”

He was ranked as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks in his recruiting class as a sophomore when he realized a 6-6 quarterback might have a better future on the basketball court.

“A lot of colleges recruited me. I could have gone either way about staying with football. but my line was not very good, so I had to do a lot of scrambling. I just decided basketball was best,” Knox Jr. said.

It worked out well. He was a consensus top 10 player in the 2017 recruiting class. He says he can play any position and his athleticism and length could make him one of the top scorers in the freshman class nationally even though he’ll be one of the younger players — similar to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Devin Booker their freshman seasons — in college basketball this year.

“Great kid, character kid who comes from a great family,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.

He was a McDonald’s All-American. He’s won gold medals with USA Basketball. He averaged 28.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a senior at Tampa (Fla.) Catholic after averaging 30.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game as a junior. He scored 2,691 points on 48 percent career shooting and pulled off 1,130 rebounds. He was also a career 30-percent shooter from 3-point range in four years but has improved dramatically in the last year on his outside shot.

“He and Jemarl (Baker) will be our best shooters,” Calipari said. “But I want him to also drive the ball. He has to do that and make smart decisions. But he’s good, really good.”

He was a late commitment to Kentucky when most thought he was either headed to Duke or Florida State. “The program knows how to win and I’ll have a lot of players around me that know how to win and want to learn how to win even more,” Knox said when he picked UK on Derby Day and was hit by a barrage of hate on social media from fans of other teams.

Calipari told him he could envision him in the same scoring role that Malik Monk had last season.

“This is the first group where Cal challenged us to find positionless players and Kevin can certainly handle that,” assistant coach Joel Justus said. “He can guard multiple positions. He’s skilled on the floor with the ball. He can rebound. He scores a variety of ways. He’s a good passer.”

Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne said he thinks of Golden State star Kevin Durant when he sees Knox because they are both long, athletic players who can shoot, pass and rebound.

“If he is my son, I am telling him the mold is already made. Just duplicate what that dude (Durant) is doing,” Payne said. “He’s wiry. He can shoot the 3. Can shoot the midrange shot. Can post up. Can put the ball on the floor. He’s a special talent.

“With that kind of potential, I am not sure he even realizes how good he can be. Our goal is for him to get better. Don’t worry about the results, just get better.”

His father was a standout receiver at Florida State and played in the NFL. He’s friends with UK football coaches Lamar Thomas and Vince Marrow. He’s also been a mentor/coach for his son.

“My dad has been with me the whole time. A lot of kids don’t get to grow up with dads like that. He pushed me to the limit every time in workouts,” Knox Jr. said. “My dad has played at the highest level. He won a national championship, got drafted. He knows what it takes to get to the next level. Other kids would be playing video games or hanging with friends. I would be out on the field or on the court.

“My dad is kind of crazy jumping around and screaming like Cal. I am used to it. They players have said Cal can get crazy. He said he’s worse than my dad. I’ll be the judge of that. Cal is a great guy with a great sense of humor. I’ll be fine with him just like I was with my dad. They both just want the best for me.”

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