Here's why Duke and UNC were recruiting high school basketball phenom Kevin Knox
The regular signing period is over, and most top recruits, including Kevin Knox, Trevon Duval and Mohamed Bamba, have made their college decisions.
We graded how the top five schools in the country – along with Duke and N.C. State – fared with their 2017 recruiting classes.
No. 1 North Carolina
The Tar Heels are consistently one of the best teams in the country. You’d think they’d be able to land the top one-and-done guys. But that has not been the case.
Knox, a 6-9, 203-pound wing forward and the No. 8 recruit in the nation, would have been a big pick-up for the Tar Heels. Knox had UNC in his top five list but ended up going to Kentucky.
Next year, we could be saying the same thing about the 2018 No. 2 recruit Zion Williamson, who has expressed interest in the Tar Heels. Missing on those types of players – while frustrating – has not be seemed to affect UNC’s ability to go far in the NCAA tournament.
The Tar Heels, who won the NCAA championship in April, picked up two four-star recruits in Jalek Felton, a 6-2, 175-pound combo guard and Raymond Felton’s nephew, and Garrison Brooks a 6-9, 220-pound forward. They also grabbed three three-star recruits, giving them the 16th best recruiting class in the country, according to 247sports’ team composite rankings.
No. 2 Gonzaga
Gonzaga will lose at least three players next season, and a possible fourth if senior Johnathan Williams stays in the NBA draft. But the Bulldogs have only landed one commitment from the 2017 class.
Corey Kispert, a 6-6, 190-pound four-star small forward, committed to the Zags earlier this month.
No. 3 Oregon
Oregon landed one five-star recruit in Troy Brown, a 6-7, 210-pound McDonald’s All-American, two four-star recruits and one three-star recruit.
247sports ranks the Ducks’ haul as the No. 12 recruiting class in the country.
No. 4 Kansas
Kansas is another program where the top “one-and-done’s go.” But this wasn’t one of the best recruiting years for Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff.
The Jayhawks made offers to 18 five-star recruits, and landed one – Billy Preston, a 6-10, 230-pound power forward. It’s normal for coaches to extend scholarships to many players, knowing they won’t get them. However, Self usually lands two or three five-star guys.
Kansas did sign Marcus Garrett, a 6-6, 180-pound four-star combo guard. The Jayhawks have the No. 34 recruiting class in the country.
Self recruited Duval, who ended up at Duke, and Thomas Allen, who played for Garner High before transferring to Brewster Academy. Allen signed with Nebraska in April after he was released from N.C. State.
No. 5 Kentucky
Kentucky got almost every player it wanted, creating what could be its own “Fab Five.” Out of its eight signees, six are five-star and five were McDonald’s All-Americans.
And most importantly, the Wildcats landed Knox.
But signing top talent is nothing new for Kentucky coach John Calipari. His recruiting classes are consistently among the best in the country. According to 247sports, Kentucky has the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the country this season.
No. 13 Duke
Duke had high expectations heading into the 2017 recruiting season. The Blue Devils were in the running for the top point guard in the country, the top shooting guard, the second best small forward and the top two power forwards.
It’s hard to expect you’ll land all of those guys, but Duke was close.
As of May 18, Duke had signed three out of five and addressed its most important need – a true point guard in Duval.
Knox had the Blue Devils in his top five, and Bamba, a 6-11, 207-pound forward and No. 2 recruit who signed with Texas, had them in his top four.
The Blue Devils grabbed three five-stars, two four-stars and one three-star prospect, ranking Duke as the second best recruiting class in the nation, according to 247sports’ composite rankings.
Add Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Trent Jr. and Duval to senior guard Grayson Allen and sophomore center Marques Bolden, and Duke next year is expected to have an efficient lineup.
N.C. State (unranked)
Hiring a new coach late in the recruiting season, after many recruits have formed bonds with other coaches, made it tough for new N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts to grab some of those top guys.
Allen, a four-star combo guard was granted a release from the Wolfpack after Mark Gottfried was fired. Charles O’Bannon, a four-star player and McDonald’s All-American Gottfried and his coaching staff were heavily recruiting, decided to go to Southern California.
However, Keatts did pick up four-star point guard Lavar Batts, the top point guard in North Carolina.
He also grabbed N.C. A&T grad transfer guard Sam Hunt and Baylor transfer guard Al Freeman. The two of them will bring experience and scoring.
And Brian Bowen, a five-star small forward, still has the Wolfpack on his list, though it seems unlikely it’ll get him.
Where did the consensus top 10 recruits go?
No. 1 Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri)
Porter initially signed with Washington, but its longtime head coach Lorenzo Romar was fired at the end of the season. After being granted a release from the Huskies, Porter signed a financial aid agreement with Missouri, where his dad was recently hired as an assistant coach.
No. 2 Mohamed Bamba (Texas)
Bamba, a 6-11, 207-pound forward was one of the final recruits to commit. He was heavily recruited by Duke, and his decision came down to the Blue Devils, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan and Arizona. Bamba on Thursday announced he was heading to Texas. He established a good relationship with Texas coach Shaka Smart while playing under him for Team USA basketball’s 17 and under team.
No. 3 DeAndre Ayton (Arizona)
Ayton, 7-foot, 235-pound center, who was once the top prospect in the country, was not heavily recruited. There were concerns about his eligibility after he transferred to Hillcrest Prep before his senior season, and many schools were hesitant to go after him. Arizona was one of the few schools to initially make an offer.
No. 4 Wendell Carter (Duke)
Carter, a 6-10, 262-pound forward, was an early Duke recruit. He committed in November and not long after signed his National Letter of Intent. He was the second Duke recruit to do so this recruiting season.
No. 5 Trevon Duval (Duke)
Duval, a 6-3, 190-pound point guard, was also one of the last recruits to make a decision. He announced his commitment to Duke on Monday. Duval is a true point guard and fills a hole Duke needed last season.
No. 6 Colin Sexton (Alabama)
Sexton, a 6-2, 182-pound point guard, made his decision to go to Alabama early in the process. He wowed fans with his flashy passes at the McDonald’s All-American game in March. Sexton was also interested in N.C. State at one point.
No. 7 Jaren Jackson (Michigan State)
Jackson signed with Michigan State in November. The 6-10, 226-pound power forward was also a McDonald’s All-American.
No. 8 Kevin Knox (Kentucky)
Knox’s decision was perhaps the most anticipated this recruiting season. Knox, a 6-9, 203-pound wing, had narrowed down his list to Duke, UNC, Missouri and Florida State. He surprised many when he chose Kentucky.
No. 9 Mitchell Robinson (Western Kentucky)
Robinson, a 7-foot, 222-pound center and McDonald’s All-American, committed to Western Kentucky in November. He had originally committed to Texas A&M before decommitting last summer.
No. 10 Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky)
Diallo, a 6-5, 195-pound shooting guard from New York, enrolled at Kentucky in January.