North Carolina and Duke both got bad news on the recruiting trail on Saturday. Kevin Knox, the five-star small forward who was the top remaining unsigned player available in the class of 2017, announced on Twitter that he will play at Kentucky next season.Knox is expected to be a one-and-done player and NBA lottery prospect. His decision came as a bit of a surprise, as all indications had Duke as the favorite to land him, followed by Carolina.The McDonald’s All-American narrowed his list of colleges to a final four and took official visits to Duke, Kentucky, UNC and Florida State during the basketball season. Knox’s father is a former NFL player and Seminole alum.Following the season, Missouri made a late push after hiring Cuonzo Martin as head coach. Knox took a final official visit there a month ago.Kentucky’s John Calipari and FSU’s Leonard Hamilton made their final case on April 18, when each coach paid Knox a home visit. UNC’s Roy Williams, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Missouri’s Martin each visited the following day.Knox would have likely stepped into UNC’s starting lineup from day one, replacing Justin Jackson, who left for the NBA after his junior season. The Heels return Joel Berry II, Theo Pinson and Kenny Williams, who all had starting experience last season, but only Berry started all year.Power forward Tony Bradley, a freshman last year, will attend the NBA Combine this week and may return to school, depending on the feedback he receives. If Bradley remains in the draft, forward Luke Maye is the only returning Tar Heel player with any size.Carolina brings in a five-man recruiting class that includes three-star power forward Sterling Manley and three-star center Brandon Huffman, as well as four-star power forward Garrison Brooks, who signed with the Heels a week ago. The Heels also met with William & Mary graduate transfer Jack Whitman, but he chose to play his final season for Kansas instead.Knox’s decision could have an even bigger implication for Duke, who may return just five scholarship players from last seasonguard Grayson Allen, forwards Javin DeLaurier and Jack White and centers Marques Bolden Antonio Vrankovic. Allen is the only starter, and the other four players were not included in the regular playing rotation. Point guard Frank Jackson, who will be at the NBA Combine this week, may also choose to return to school.Duke currently has a four-man recruiting class, with the possibility of adding point guard Trevon Duval and center Mohamed Bamba. Five-star power forward Wendell Carter is the only frontcourt player in the group.For both Carolina and Duke, there are few options available at Knox’s small-forward position. Brian Bowen is the highest-rated unsigned player at the position. The five-star has been considering Arizona, Creighton, Michigan State and NC State and has had little interest from Carolina or Duke up until this point.Four-star Jordan Tucker is the next-best option. He’s taken official visits to Syracuse, Villanova and Indiana and is also considering Villanova, Oregon and Georgia Tech. Duke appears to have at least made some progress with Tucker, although the Blue Devils have a lot of ground to make up.Carolina may turn to power forward Jeremiah Tilmon. The 6-foot-11 four-star is looking at Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Indiana.While the remaining options will help make up for some of Knox’s production, it may be too much to ask any of them to solidify either team’s starting lineup or put them over the top as a title favorite, as Knox would have done.
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