Contenders for Kon Knueppel
The 2024 recruiting cycle is nearing the home stretch, as visit season approaches. Virginia has several key recruits scheduled to visit in September. One of those being prized guard Kon Knueppel.
Kon Knueppel is a 6’6” guard out of Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee. He’s currently ranked as the 21st overall player in the 2024 class, according to the On3 industry average. As high as 9th in the On3 in-house rankings, and as low as 37th by ESPN. He should easily end up as a consensus five-star rated prospect after all the updates.
He comes from a basketball family, on both sides. Named after his dad who is the career scoring leader at Division-3 Wisconsin Lutheran College, where Kon’s paternal grandfather was once the head coach and his uncle now coaches the women’s team. Kon’s mom Chari Nordgaard Knueppel is the career scoring leader at her alma mater, Wisconsin-Green Bay. Her brother Jeff Nordgaard was all-time great on the men’s side at UWGB.
Basically, everybody in Kon’s family plays basketball and does it at a high level. The result is a lot of relationships and ties to people around the game, particularly in the state of Wisconsin, which is a major theme in his recruitment.
Kon has been heavily recruited from the start. He has arguably the most well-rounded and complete offensive skillset of any player in his class. With the well-deserved reputation as one of the best shooters in the country, he’s also a very capable playmaker. He can play on or off the ball, and even situationally in the post.
His stock has continued to rise this summer, thanks to a tremendous performance on the AAU circuit. He led the Nike EYBL in scoring during the regular season at over 22 points per game, and did it very efficiently. Nearly 50% from the field, and 47% on three-point attempts. He also averaged 3.5 assists per game, frequently running the point.
While he hasn’t publicly named finalists, he did quietly inform some programs last month that they had been eliminated. There are five upcoming official visits scheduled. I believe those schools are his unannounced finalists.
In-state schools Wisconsin and Marquette have naturally been involved since day one. As has Virginia’s Tony Bennett. And the newcomers, Alabama and Duke joined the race with summer offers. All five will receive official visits, starting with Marquette on August 28th and finishing at Duke on the weekend of September 15th. A decision is likely to come within a few weeks of the completion of those visits.
Head Coach Nate Oats is from Wisconsin. He and Kon’s dad know each other from their playing days. Both were star players in the same college conference. Oats has turned the Crimson Tide into a national power, finishing this past regular season ranked number one. And more relevant for recruiting, Alabama is putting players in the NBA. Two first round picks this summer, both freshmen.
Alabama offered in June. They’re looking to add a couple of guards, and are seriously involved with several other high profile recruits. It was mostly assistants keeping tabs on Kon this summer, with Oats only seeing him when it was convenient at Top 100 Camp. Not the priority treatment of some other contenders, but still a consistent presence.
Kon will visit Alabama on the weekend of September 8th for their home football showdown with Texas. The Crimson Tide are a wildcard in his recruitment. They aren’t talked about as a likely choice. But with the Wisconsin connection and their recent track record of getting players to the NBA quickly, they have a fighting chance.
Duke was the last to extend a scholarship offer, coming in late June after Head Coach Jon Scheyer watched Kon at Top 100 Camp. I think everybody understands the appeal. They offer the biggest platform in the college game, and the program is designed for players seeking the quick path to the next level. While Scheyer doesn’t have the personal ties like others in the race, he is a Midwesterner from Chicago and by all accounts connects well with Kon.
As always, Duke is in the process of assembling a great recruiting class. It appears they’re hoping to get either Kon or five-star guard VJ Edgecombe as part of that, although there could be room for both. Edgecombe received a heavier dose of the staff’s attention in July, and is more widely discussed as a top target. But Kon is moving on an earlier schedule. He’ll have the first chance to commit if he wants.
The Blue Devils are a serious contender. The selling points are obvious. Their roster is heavy on wings already though, which has to be a concern. And even after offering, they didn’t really prioritize Kon. Still, the door is wide open and it would be foolish to underestimate Duke. They’ll receive the cherished final visit on the weekend of September 15th.
Marquette is the hometown program for Knueppel. Head Coach Shaka Smart has quickly returned them to prominence, winning the Big East title in his second season at the helm. They play a fun variety of basketball. And Shaka has a long line of former players who’ve collected NBA checks.
They’ve recruited him fairly hard. Shaka Smart’s first stop each July live period was to see and be seen by Kon. Marquette has done a nice job of retaining players, plus they picked up early commitments from two 2024 recruits. There’s probably only room for one more. They’re involved with other forwards, but I believe Kon is the only guard they’re pursuing.
Kon has visited Marquette unofficially multiple times in the past, and will take an official visit there on August 28th. It’so secret that he would love to play in front of his family all the time. The stylistic fit might be questionable, but Shaka Smart has a great program and location is very much working in his favor. They’re a strong contender.
Head Coach Tony Bennett has had great success recruiting his home state. There are three current Wahoos from the Milwaukee area. As we always seem to find with Wisconsin recruits, he has personal connections. In this case, it starts with Kon’s uncle being a college teammate of Tony’s at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
It’s been a max effort recruitment for Virginia, almost entirely by Bennett himself. The intensity especially picked up over the summer, when the majority of Tony’s time was spent shadowing Kon. UVA already has a nice collection of young guards, which could be an issue. That’s also given them the luxury of focusing on the big prize since it’s not a necessity to add anyone. It’s Kon or bust for Bennett.
Kon is scheduled for a return trip to UVA on September 14th, after previously visiting in February. Bennett has built the strongest personal relationship of any coach involved. If he wins out, that will be the reason. Tony Bennett the man and Kon’s trust in him. While UVA has produced a lot of NBA players, they haven’t had anyone pass through on the quick path. That is surely being used against them. But the Wahoos are no doubt a top tier contender.
The Badgers really focus on recruits from within the region. Just about all of their players come from Wisconsin or a neighboring state. The process starts earlier than it does for most other programs. They’ve been in full pursuit of Knueppel since offering him over two years ago. Badger fans are intently following his recruitment. It’s been a true marathon for them.
Head Coach Greg Gard has quietly recruited well recently. Already a pair of solid 2024 commits and even one on the board for 2025, following a nice group of current freshmen. He’s looking to top it off with a big splash by reeling in Kon. The Badger staff has put more effort into his recruitment than anyone. It’s been consistent throughout. At every opportunity to see Kon, there were typically multiple Wisconsin coaches courtside.
Kon is scheduled for an official visit to Madison on September 12th. He’s been there numerous times before on unofficial visits. Wisconsin had been perceived as falling back in the race. This scheduled visit gives them renewed hope. They haven’t had many NBA players lately, and that’s a problem for them. Kon would be treated like a rock star there though.
What I’m Hearing
Kon has been very thorough and deliberate in his process. He’s visited or is planning to visit nearly every school that’s recruited him. There’s no facade with him as is the case with some recruits. He’s been up front at every turn, and done things exactly as he said he would.
We had been hearing for some time that Virginia and Marquette were seen as out in front from the rest of the pack. I think Duke is right there with them now, although opinions vary about where they fit in. Alabama is a wildcard. He’ll visit and hear them out as he’s done with every program that’s recruited him. And Wisconsin has continued to hang around. With another visit scheduled there, they have a legitimate chance as well.
With the recent reclassification of point guard Christian Bliss, Virginia is technically still looking for their first commitment in the 2024 class. Along with Knueppel, they have two more upcoming visitors. Eastside Catholic (WA) forward Jacob Cofie is scheduled to visit on the weekend of September 8th, and St. Rose (NJ) forward Matthew Hodge will be in town on September 21st.
Another big fall of recruiting action is on the way. We’ll have it covered as always on Locker Room Access.
(Featured Image Credit: Evan Flood)