The best high school basketball player in the country, Cooper Flagg, is a rising junior. He holds an offer from Duke.
The best high school basketball player in Wisconsin, Kon Knueppel II, is a rising senior. He also holds an offer from Duke.
Earlier this month, Flagg, a 6’8” phenom from Maine projected by many to be the #1 pick in the NBA draft, reclassified to the class of 2024, moving his high school graduation up a year, and making him eligible to play college ball in one year instead of two.
The move could send ripples through college basketball including to the shores of Lake Michigan.
Flagg’s reclassification puts him in the same class as Knueppel, the 6’5” sharpshooter from Milwaukee, one of the better players to come out of the state in a while.
Flagg, who will almost certainly play just one year of college basketball before he is eligible for the NBA draft, is expected to go to Duke.
Knueppel and Flagg don’t play the same position, but should Flagg become a Blue Devil, that’s one fewer Duke scholarship on the table for the class of 2024, as well as fewer minutes and shots for anyone else.
Might a Duke commitment from Flagg push Knueppel away from Duke?
The Blue Devils have many offers out for the 2024 class, and Knueppel doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to make a decision.
He holds many other basketball scholarship offers and plans to visit Virginia, Alabama and Duke next month. He also plans to take another visit to Wisconsin in September, this time an official one where the university pays for everything, his father told Badger Stripes.
Former Wisconsin assistant coach Tony Bennett is the coach of Virginia. Alabama coach Nate Oates is from Watertown.
Knueppel has visited Wisconsin multiple times on unofficial visits, when a recruit must pay his own way, including attending the Purdue game last year when the Badgers lost a heartbreaker to the #5 team in the country.
“Being the hometown hero there, that’s really intriguing,” Knueppel told reporters in June when asked about becoming a Badger. “They have a great program, and they think I fit really well into how they play, and a lot of others also say I fit how they play.”
The family has deep roots in the state and a major hoops pedigree. Knueppel’s mother Chari Nordgaard Knueppel is the all-time leading scorer at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (1996-99) with 1,964 points. His father, Kon Knueppel I, is the second all-time leading scorer for Wisconsin Lutheran College (1994-98) with 2,064 points.
Marquette has also offered Knueppel, as have a long list of schools including Ohio State, Notre Dame and Louisville. For what it’s worth, Marquette and Notre Dame are Catholic institutions, and Knueppel attends a Lutheran high school, Wisconsin Lutheran.
In other Wisconsin men’s basketball recruiting news
One of the top players in Minnesota, the 6’8” sweet-shooting Jackson McAndrew, threw a curveball at the basketball prognosticators, like myself, and committed to Creighton University in Omaha over his other final choices of Wisconsin, Xavier and Notre Dame earlier this month.
Considering the fact that McAndrew is a big-time jump shooter, and his AAU point guard and close friend Daniel Freitag, committed to Wisconsin, I figured he would too. Another high school recruit from their AAU team, Jack Robison, is also committed to the Badgers.
But McAndrew has strong ties to Creighton. His father played college basketball at North Dakota when current Creighton coach Greg McDermott was an assistant coach there.
C’est la vie. Perhaps the silver lining is Knueppel sees less competition for minutes at Wisconsin in the class of 2024.
By Peter Cameron, BADGER STRIPES
Badger Stripes is an online sports news organization that provides in-depth coverage of UW athletics. You can also follow them on Facebook.
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