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Kon Knueppel II can be a ‘special player’ for Duke Blue Devils
Wisconsin Lutheran guard Kon Knueppel (33) handles the ball against Pewaukee guard Nick Janowski (25) on Tuesday January 3, 2023, at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Credit: Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Sports Content Services, LLC)

Kon Knueppel II can be a ‘special player’ for Duke Blue Devils

MILWAUKEE (BVM) — The Duke Blue Devils have five national championships, are a college basketball blueblood and have one of the top players in the sport: Kyle Filipowski. Duke head coach Jon Scheyer is ensuring the program sustains its success by adding some of the best talent in the Class of 2024, which includes Kon Knueppel II, a five-star recruit and the No. 15-ranked player in the nation.

Knueppel II’s prep career began in 2020 at Wisconsin Lutheran High School, when he averaged 10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 24 games. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Kon Knueppel I, who was teammates with current Vikings head basketball coach Ryan Walz at the school.

“The first time dad [Kon I] ever brought Kon II to me was at a third-grade basketball camp and at the time, Kon II had just started basketball and didn’t have any true interest in it,” Walz said. “His dad was a bit perplexed … [but] he brought him back the next year and all of a sudden, he loved basketball and was good at it. I think by the time he was in sixth grade, people started talking about him being a special player.”

Kon II not only followed in the footsteps of his father, who also played at Wisconsin Lutheran College and set the school’s all-time leading scoring record (2,064 points), which has been broken, but he also looked up to his mother, Chari Knueppel, who is UW-Green Bay’s all-time leading scorer with 1,964 career points. 

Kon II may have had high expectations of himself early on and living up to those could be exhausting, but he has taken the task head-on and has become the best high school basketball player in Wisconsin.

“He’s still learning. He’s got a lot on his plate,” Walz said. “He has his own pressure that he puts on himself to perform, plus a defense that is always doing everything they can to shut him down. It’s not always as easy as people would think, but he’s absolutely easy to coach and a great leader.”

duke basketball kon knueppel
Wisconsin Lutheran guard Kon Knueppel (33) fouls Onalaska guard T.J. Stuttley (5) in the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout on Thursday December 29, 2022, at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin. (Credit: Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

The pressure to succeed is always going to be there and adding to it are the programs interested in his skills. He has 16 scholarship offers from D-I basketball programs, including Duke, Notre Dame, Marquette, Wisconsin, Alabama, Louisville and Virginia. Learning that respected programs are interested could take a toll on a recruit, but he took a unique approach to the recruiting process. 

“It wasn’t as taxing as I thought it would be,” Kon II said on the “Over and Back” podcast. “I told all the coaches I’m not going to be on my phone … and from the get-go, they respected that. It wasn’t as hectic in my life all the time.” 

After making his official visits and contemplating his choices, he decided to commit to Duke on Sept. 21.

The decision was a special one, but now he’s focusing on his senior season and is ready to help the Vikings build off a 23-5 2022-23 season and capture a conference title, dethroning the Pewaukee Pirates, who’ve become their archnemesis.

kon knueppel stats duke
Wisconsin Lutheran guard Kon Knueppel (33) finds his path along the baseline blocked by Pewaukee guard Nick Janowski (25) on Tuesday January 3, 2023, at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Credit: Dave Kallmann / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

“We played them nine times in the last three years, two times in conference and then in the sectional final and they’ve gotten the better of us,” Walz said. “That doesn’t sit well with me, that doesn’t sit well with us, but at the same time, there’s a lot of respect there because they’re a very good program. They’re well coached, they have talented kids who understand how to play the game of basketball and they shoot the heck out of it.”

Pewaukee features the No. 2-ranked basketball player in Wisconsin, Nick Janowski, and the two are set to meet this season and provide the high school basketball scene with a great matchup. 

“I’ll be interested to see how that plays out,” Walz said. “These guys are longtime friends. They’ve grown up in basketball together and they played on the same AAU team for years. I can guarantee you when the ball is tipped up, they’ll be going at each other … because they are both very highly competitive kids.”

Kon II is truly an outstanding basketball talent and has a high ceiling when it comes to his skills and will be ready to flourish wherever his talents lead him.  

“I don’t know where to put a cap on him because he keeps getting better,” Walz said. “When you’ve got a kid who works as hard as he does and also has some God-given talent that goes along with it, it’s hard to put a cap on that … But I think right now he’s trending towards an NBA player.”