Knecht takes game to next level

Daily Journal Sports File Mills forward Jimmy Knecht added an outside jump shot to complement his inside game, hoping it adds up to a PAL title.

Given the suspension of athletics in the county, the Daily Journal decided to dive into our 20-year archives to bring readers some of our favorite stories over the years.

DEC. 18, 2007 — At 6-feet tall, Mills' Jimmy Knecht is not the prototypical size for a basketball forward.

That's OK. Knecht's game is far from typical.

Although he may face players that are taller, rarely will he find opponents more versatile.

"For a guy his height, he has surprising quickness," said Mills coach Rick Hanson. "He's very crafty around the basket. He's able to get shots up against bigger guys. He's very creative around the basket."

It's Knecht's outside shooting that has added to his arsenal. He attempted -- and made -- only two 3-pointers last year. This year, he's already up to eight or nine.

Last weekend, Knecht helped lead the Vikings to the championship of the Prospect tournament -- the second year in a row Mills won the title. Knecht had a superb tournament. He scored 10 points, had 3 assists and 4 rebounds in a 55-42 win over the tournament host and followed that with a 20-point, 6-rebound game in a 63-55 win over Monta Vista. In the championship game, he had 13 and 6 in a 57-42 win over Lynbrook. Knecht was awarded tournament MVP and is this week's Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.

"I was very surprised," Knecht said when he found out he was named MVP. "I felt I had a better tournament at Burlingame."

In the Burlingame Lions Club Tournament, Mills was knocked into the consolation bracket after a first-round loss. Not that he's complaining. In fact, he doesn't really care what numbers he puts up, as long as the team is winning.

The Vikings are on the positive side there as well. Despite losing three-fifths of their starting rotation from the team that advanced to the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals last year, they're proving they're still a good team. The Vikings are off to an 8-2 start, due in large part to Knecht, who is averaging 16 points per game. While every team's goal is to win a CCS championship, Knecht said the team has a more immediate goal: Winning a Peninsula Athletic League title. Any personal accolades would just be icing on the cake, Knecht said.

To that end, Knecht is not worrying about matching up with bigger, stronger forwards.

"It's definitely difficult playing a post position (at 6-feet tall)," he said.

In fact, he reverses that thought process -- he wants to be a matchup problem to the opposition. With his inside-outside game, Knecht could prove to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.

A three-year varsity player, Knecht was pretty limited on the offensive end his sophomore year.

"My sophomore year I was known as a guy who shoots baseline jump shots," Knecht said.

Since then, he's worked on extending his range while still serving as a "garbage man" around the basket: Those players that do damage by grabbing rebounds and scoring on putbacks.

"He's always been selective and takes good shots," Hanson said. "You don't have to worry about him taking bad shots."

But as the starting quarterback on the football team the last two seasons, Knecht doesn't have a lot of time to work on his basketball game.

"Once football is going, I don't get to shoot much," Knecht said.

So he has to get a lot out of the summer club season, of which Knecht has taken advantage. Playing more a swingman role for the North Peninsula Force, he got a chance to extend his shooting range. When he did find time to practice his shooting during the football season, it was all mid-range jumpers and 3-point attempts.

That work paid off as he's taken his game to the next level. He's hoping that translates into more wins for the team.

"We're not big on numbers," Knecht said. "Just in the win-loss column."

Nathan Mollat can be reached by e-mail: nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 117.

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