After months of construction, Tampa Catholic faculty and donors were able to tour their basketball cathedral this week.
The Kevin Knox II Field House, named after the NBA free agent who starred for the Crusaders, is a $6-million project that includes a new gymnasium, state-of-the-art fitness center, Hall of Fame Pavilion, Champions Hall, coaching suites, video scoreboard, men’s and women’s locker rooms, bleachers and concessions.
It was paid for in part by a $2 million donation from Knox II, along with contributions from other donors.
The lobby includes murals that pay homage to Knox II and the student section, known as the Green Locos. The court will be dedicated in today’s ceremony to longtime basketball coach Don Dziagwa, who also serves as the school’s athletic director.
For the past two seasons, the basketball teams have played nearly every game on the road awaiting completion of their new facility.
It does not just house basketball. The locker rooms, the meeting room and the weight room were designed for all sports.
The field house is more than just an architectural archetype. It provides a boost in a facilities arms race, contested mostly among area private schools seeking any edge to attract student-athletes.
Just look at the building frenzy among Hillsborough County private schools in the past decade. Berkeley Prep has the multi-million dollar, 53,000-square foot Straz Family Field House that features two basketball courts, as well as locker rooms, offices and stadium-style seating in its meeting rooms. Jesuit has a $2 million baseball stadium, Hyer Family Park. Carrollwood Day spent $5.5 million on a football stadium, locker rooms, weight room and gymnasium. Seffner Christian has a stadium and field house, among other projects, in the works.
Tampa Catholic’s new facility is named after one of its most famous graduates, one who believes benevolence has been just as important as basketball.
Growing up, Knox II would head to his father’s office at the Oaks at Riverview Community Center after school.
The former first round pick in the 2018 NBA draft spent weekday afternoons shooting basketballs on the stiff, unforgiving rims at the center.
But the routine trips also were meant to teach valuable lessons. The elder Knox wanted his son to see single parents who struggled to afford shoes for their children.
Those experiences had a profound effect on the younger Knox.
Two years ago, Knox II was back at the Riverview Community Center for its annual back to school bash. He posed for pictures and handed out Puma backpacks filled with school supplies that he donated.
And when Knox II signed his deal with Puma as a rookie, he made sure Tampa Catholic , received $10,000 worth of gear from the shoe company for the next four years.
The Crusaders have been able to buy uniforms, travel gear and plenty of new pairs of sneakers.
It was understandable Knox II would be generous in helping build a new facility at the school where he starred from 2013-17.
“I was inspired to give back to Tampa Catholic, as they helped me become the person and player I am today,” Knox ll said earlier this year. “Being a TC Crusader will always be a part of who I am on and off the court.”
The family tradition will not just continue in name only.
After all, Knox II’s younger brother, Karter, is a rising junior who is ranked as a five-star prospect in the 2024 class by several recruiting sites.