http://www.tampabay.com/sports/basketball/preps/state-boys-basketball-tampa-catholic-92-the-villages-67/2315023 LAKELAND - As Kevin Knox stepped onto the Lakeland Center court, he was greeted by chants of "overrated." Knox, a five-star recruit, responded the only way he knew how. He kept shooting, from all over the court and from every angle. By the time Knox stepped off the court with two minutes remaining, he had scored 40 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in a virtuoso performance that helped the Crusaders cruise to a 92-67 win over the Villages in the Class 5A state semifinals.
Tampa Catholic (25-5) faces Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian in Saturday's title game. It is the first time Tampa Catholic will play in a championship game since 1995, the year the Crusaders won the program's only state title.
From the start, Knox, a 6-foot-8 forward, dominated. He threw down emphatic dunks. He stepped back and hit NBA-range 3-pointers. He knocked down free throws. His 40 points matched his season high. His 20 rebounds tied a career high. Better still, he did it all with North Carolina coach Roy Williams in attendance to watch the prized recruit. Knox's efficiency? 13-of-17 from the field, 7-of-7 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 in free throws. His teammates were accurate, too, hitting 44 percent of their 3-pointers (15-of-34). "Kevin Knox was unbelievable," Villages coach Colt McDowell said. "We just played against the best player in the state and we had no answer for him." That shooting touch from the outside was a significant improvement from last season when the Crusaders were 5-of-32 from 3-point range in a loss to Jacksonville Bolles in the state semifinals.
The experience of playing in a state semifinal before and knowing what it was like to play in an arena as big as the Lakeland Center paid dividends for Tampa Catholic. "We really shot well," Crusaders coach Don Dziagwa said. "Sometimes you hear things about the troubles of playing in a big arena like this, but they realize the basket still is the same height. The guys felt good about where they were. They knew the situation and the surroundings and how bad they felt after last year's game and didn't want that to happen again."
The Buffalo (30-3), meanwhile, had never won a playoff game before this season and was starting a freshman, three sophomores and a junior. Another big advantage was height, particularly for Knox, who was at least 3 inches taller than anyone else for the Villages.
Towering above his opponents, Knox was able to snag the few errant shots his teammates had. On offense, Knox could not be stopped. He closed out the first quarter with a dunk and a 3-pointer to give him 15 points. After hitting that buzzer-beating 3-pointer, Knox put his index finger to his lips, a gesture to silence the crowd. He continued to pile up the points, finishing the first half with 18 as he helped the Crusaders go ahead 45-31. He started the second half with a dunk, then hit another long-range 3-pointer. By then, the rout was on.
"This was probably one of my better games of the year," Knox said. "I was hitting everything. I was fire." It was not just Knox. Eight players scored, including two others in double figures - Tim Carter (14 points) and Josey Davis (12). Even Knox's younger brother, Kobe, a freshman who moved up from junior varsity, got in late and finished with seven points. Knox stayed at Tampa Catholic this season rather than play at Montverde or IMG, in part so he could play with his younger brother. But the biggest factor for returning was to win state.
17-year-old senior Kevin Knox turned down a $1.4 Million offer to play in China - 5 days ago
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According to the Tampa Bay Times, a professional basketball team in China offered 17-year old Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox II (6'9''-PF-99) $1.4 million to take his talents to the land of 1.4 billion people. 'I didn't put much stock into the offer,' said Knock's father. 'We politely said thanks but no thanks. He's going to college.' The big question is, 'What college?' The Knox has narrowed his list to Duke, North Carolina, Missouri and Florida State. He's expected to make an announceme... [read more]
According to the Tampa Bay Times, a professional basketball team in China offered 17-year old Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox II (6'9''-PF-99) $1.4 million to take his talents to the land of 1.4 billion people. 'I didn't put much stock into the offer,' said Knock's father. 'We politely said thanks but no thanks. He's going to college.' The big question is, 'What college?' The Knox has narrowed his list to Duke, North Carolina, Missouri and Florida State. He's expected to make an announcement in the next few weeks and since I'm a FSU alum, I'm hoping Knox doesn't break my heart the way Andrew Wiggins did a few years back. I'm also curious to how many other top prospects are being contacted by teams in China. In 2014, Emmanuel Mudiay (6'5''-G-96, agency: Three Eye Sports) took $1.2 million to spend a season over there, came back to the states and was the 7th pick by the Nuggets. And after watching a player like Jimmer Fredette (6'2''-PG-89, college: BYU) aka 'The King of Loneliness (that's his nickname in China)' put up 2007 Kobe Bryant numbers over there, I'm surprised a few top high school talents aren't willing to take the money now as opposed to taking the money under the table at a college (I'm kiddingsort of). Back to Knox, besides being one of the most talented players in the country, he has a 3.5 GPA, which means if he goes to North Carolina he can actually take the tests himself. Courtesy of: ballislife.com
Four-star guard Jemarl Baker commits to Kentucky - 8 days ago
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John Calipari picked up a commitment from four-star 2017 guard Jemarl Baker (6'4''-SG-98) on Tuesday. 2017 recruit Jemarl Baker verbally committed to Kentucky on Tuesday, he told Scout "I'm honored and humbled by the experience and greatly appreciate coach Cal believing in my abilities," Baker said. "I work extremely hard and to see it paying off means the world to me. I know I'm going to be challenged and pushed every day by the coaching staff and it's something I look forward to. I get... [read more]
John Calipari picked up a commitment from four-star 2017 guard Jemarl Baker (6'4''-SG-98) on Tuesday. 2017 recruit Jemarl Baker verbally committed to Kentucky on Tuesday, he told Scout "I'm honored and humbled by the experience and greatly appreciate coach Cal believing in my abilities," Baker said. "I work extremely hard and to see it paying off means the world to me. I know I'm going to be challenged and pushed every day by the coaching staff and it's something I look forward to. I get to compete with some of the best players on a daily basis." Baker, a 6-foot-3 guard out of Corona (Calif.) Eleanor Roosevelt, selected the Wildcats over offers from Arizona, Maryland, Marquette, Oregon and Utah. John Calipari and assistant Joel Justus conducted an in-home visit with Baker on Friday. Baker also met with Sean Miller, Dana Altman and Steve Wojciechowski over the weekend. Baker originally committed to California on December 31st of 2015, but when Cuonzo Martin left the Bears for Missouri, Baker opted to open up his recruitment. Playing for Earl Watson Elite, Baker averaged 16.8 points a game, was top 10 in scoring in the Under Armour Association and nailed 41 three-pointers in league play. "Jemarl is the best shooter in the country," Earl Watson Elite program director Ryan Silver said. "He has a relentless work ethic and is a proven winner." The Baker commitment only adds to Kentucky's top rated recruiting class in 2017.Their seven-man class also includes five-star prospects Hamidou Diallo, who enrolled in January, Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington, Nick Richard and Quade Green, as well as four-star recruit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Courtesy of: scout.com
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