Kentucky basketball lands 5-star Karter Knox over Louisville, South Florida, OTE

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It was not a bad Saturday night for coach John Calipari and Kentucky. First, the Wildcats won at No. 4 Tennessee in the regular-season finale, then they collected yet another five-star recruit before the team even made it back to Lexington. Overtime Elite star Karter Knox, a 6-foot-5 wing who averaged 23.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in that league this season, announced his pledge at halftime of an OTE Finals game Saturday.

Knox said he was ready to “build on the Knox family legacy” at Kentucky.

That always felt like it would be the choice, especially considering his final list of other options: Louisville, South Florida and staying another year at OTE. The Cardinals’ appeal was coach Kenny Payne, who recruited and coached Knox’s brother, Kevin, at Kentucky. Payne then left Lexington for the NBA and coached Kevin Knox again as an assistant for the New York Knicks. Those ties run deep, but Payne is in serious jeopardy of being fired at Louisville after posting a 12-50 record in two seasons.

USF was an intriguing option because it would’ve meant staying home for the Tampa native — and playing with his other brother, Kobe, a sophomore starter for the Bulls — but there’s no guarantee coach Amir Abdur-Rahim will be there next season either. For a different reason: Abdur-Rahim led a remarkable turnaround from 14-18 last season to 23-6 in his first season. He also coached Kennesaw State to a 26-9 record and an NCAA Tournament bid last year, so Abdur-Rahim will be a hot name on the coaching carousel.

OTE would’ve likely been a lucrative option, but NIL opportunities at Kentucky surely rival that. So in the end, Knox chose to play for Calipari, the most obvious path for any five-star player to the NBA these days. His brother Kevin was SEC Freshman of the Year for the Cats in 2018 and the No. 9 pick in the draft that summer.

It also continues a trend of players with family ties doubling down on Calipari. On the current team, DJ Wagner’s father played for Calipari at Memphis and fellow freshman guard Reed Sheppard’s parents both starred at Kentucky in the 1990s. Knox also joins 2024 commit Billy Richmond, whose dad played for Calipari at Memphis. The OTE pipeline to Lexington is also strengthened by this move. Star freshman Rob Dillingham played at Overtime — based in Atlanta — last season, and another 2024 commit, Somto Cyril, is there now as well.

Knox is the sixth ‘24 pledge for the Cats, all of them ranked among the top 100 players in the 247Sports Composite, five of them in the top 40 and four of them rated five-star prospects: No. 8 Jayden Quaintance, No. 18 Boogie Fland, No. 19 Knox, No. 23 Richmond, No. 40 Cyril and No. 80 Travis Perry, an in-state star. That haul is good for the second-ranked class in the country behind Duke.

(Photo: Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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