UK helped Knox prepare for the pressures of the Knicks


Arden Barnes

Kentucky freshman forward Kevin Knox watches a free throw during the game against Kansas State in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky was defeated 61-58. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Chris Leach

When NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that Kevin Knox was the New York Knicks’ No. 9 overall draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, some Knicks fans were not happy.

Talented players like Michael Porter Jr. were still available at No. 9 overall, but the Knicks took Knox for length and ability to score. Fans did not believe picking Knox was the right choice and proceeded to boo him.

Knox would go on to average 21.3 points, 6.5 and 2.3 assists per game for the Knicks in summer league, and fans started to buy into the Knox stock.

“Some of those boos probably turned into cheers,” Knox said before John Calipari’s Draft Academy. 

The boos on draft night could be a little taste of what Knox is in for at New York, as the Knicks have one of the strongest and most passionate fan bases in the NBA.

However, the reason Knox came to Kentucky was the passionate fan base that packed Rupp Arena every game night, and he feels prepared to face the pressure of playing in New York.

“Here at Kentucky, playing big games all the time, millions of people watching…” Knox said. “It’s a big stage so that’s kind of what I wanted so I’m looking forward to playing in Madison Square Garden.” 

While Knox’s rookie campaign will likely include some stressful moments, Knox got the opportunity to relax and have some fun in Lexington before NBA training camp starts in late September. Knox came back to UK to help run Calipari’s Draft Academy, where he got to mentor the young campers and participate with them in drills. 

Many of the kids wanted the opportunity to pass back and forth with Knox or Jarred Vanderbilt, but Knox had a pretty easy decision to make on who to drill with: the camper who was already sporting a Knox jersey. 

“It was good to come out here, see some of the guys, see the coaches, back in the city, interact with some of the kids and just enjoy the experience,” Knox said.

While in town, Knox also got the chance to scout this year’s team before they head to the Bahamas. Knox sat in on Tuesday’s practice, which he described as competitive.

Knox said Calipari and Kenny Payne did a good job getting the right players they wanted and he believes the team will play well when the season rolls around. 

“P.J. (Washington), Quade (Green), Nick (Richards) all played like a lot of minutes last year so I think that’s going to help a lot,” Knox said.