Although the United Center’s hardwood floor was darkened by the faded light atop the stadium, one of the McDonald’s All-Americans stood under the spotlight at the event’s media day on Tuesday.
The game will feature the top 24 senior high school basketball players in the country.
Moreover, 5-star forward Kevin Knox is being heavily recruited by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, hoping to revamp the Duke Blue Devils’ personnel for another run in the NCAA Tournament next season, as well as North Carolina and coach Roy Williams.
Surprisingly, a late-season surge didn’t help Duke’s chances to avoid a second-round exit in this year’s Big Dance, thanks to the South Carolina Gamecocks.
But the 6-foot-8, 205-pound Knox is solely focused on what he can accomplish with a program when choosing his future school.
“I don’t really pay attention to that (tournament results),” he said. “I’m glad North Carolina is still in it, but that has nothing to do with my decision.”
Krzyzewski went on an in-home visit with Knox days after his team bowed out of the tournament. Not only did the Tampa, Florida, native say he appreciated the the coach’s urgency, but he also received a boost of confidence for his potential role, considering freshman forward Jayson Tatum declared for the NBA draft on March 22.
On top of that, 6-10, 240-pound Duke freshman Harry Giles followed suit on Tuesday.
However, Knox says guards Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard’s decisions to either stick around in Durham or head to the draft could impact his choice.
“He basically told me with them (Allen and Kennard) staying or leaving, I’m going to be the star regardless,” he said. “I have a really good relationship with Coach K.”
There would be plenty of talent surrounding him if he chose Duke, though. Five-star commits Wendell Carter and Gary Trent Jr., who will also be playing in the McDonald’s All-American Game on Wednesday, signed letters of intent with the program in November.
Additionally, forward Mohamed Bamba and guard Trevon Duval, who each have the Blue Devils on their respective list of schools, will suit up alongside Knox in the matchup, too.
Plus, Knox says if guard Frank Jackson, who produced 10.9 points per game as a freshman, returns, Duke’s ability to push the ball in transition would intrigue him. The Tampa Catholic High School product is averaging 28.9 points per contest in his senior campaign, thriving off fast break opportunities in the process.
“He [Jackson] did a really good job this year, being really aggressive and getting the ball to Grayson, Luke and Jayson,” he said.
Knox, 247Sports’ eighth-best overall 2017 recruit, has one official visit left. He says he could visit Missouri with 5-star forward Michael Porter Jr. shifting to the school. Porter originally committed to Washington in July 2016.
While Knox is unsure when he’ll make a decision on his college home, the 17-year-old star will finally be able to turn off the microphones during his time within the 23-year-old, basketball sanctuary on Wednesday.
“It’s the dream come true,” he said. “Growing up, you see all of these hall of famers and futures stars playing in this game. You’re just blessed that you got the invitation to be here…”