By Joe Henricksen
There are very few coaches who get to enjoy the pride, fun and unique experience of coaching their son. Mundelein coach Richard Knar has experienced it all coaching his sons, Dickie and Robert, over the years. But the potential for a magical season — Robert’s 2012-2013 season — will not happen.
Robert Knar, a senior who is committed to Northern Iowa and will sign with the Panthers in November, suffered a freak injury while playing in Orlando on the AAU circuit in late July. The injury was worse than originally thought as the Knar family found out late Friday afternoon it was a torn ACL.
“I haven’t had a chance to even think about it as a coach,” says Richard Knar. “My only concern is Robert and how he’s handling this.”
With the return of high-scoring Knar this season, along with Division I recruit Sean O’Brien, super athlete Chino Ebube and 8 of the 10 players from a year ago, Mundelein figured to be among the top 15 teams in the Chicago area when the season began.
Last season Knar averaged 22.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.4 steals for a team that reached the Class 4A sectional final and won 26 games. Knar, who knocked down a whopping 103 three-pointers on the season, poured in 31.7 points a game in the final three state tournament games last March.
The numbers Knar has put up over three years at the varsity level are astronomical, including 1,897 career points through his junior year. He was poised to shatter every Mundelein basketball record, become the all-time leading scorer in Lake County history — former Deerfield star Ryan Hogan is the county’s all-time leading scorer with 2,406 points — and be among the all-time scorers in state history.
With a season similar to a year ago, Knar’s point total would have been in the neighborhood of 2,600 to 2,700 career points. There have only been 17 players in state history to have scored 2,600-plus points in their career. Knar would have had a shot to crack the top 10 all-time scorers in state history.
With all the personal records, accolades and historical numbers that Knar would have achieved during his senior year, his dad says that wasn’t even on his son’s mind when he was told the news of his season-ending injury.
“He was sad, but he’s more mad,” says Richard Knar of his son’s immediate reaction. “He’s mad because all he cared about and all he talked about was how he wouldn’t be able to play with his friends and teammates. He has been playing with this group since 5th grade and was looking forward to playing his senior year with them and trying to win a state championship.”
Robert looked at the calendar immediately, planned out his rehab as best he could and thought he might be able to return in March — and lead the Mustangs to Peoria.
Ironically, Richard Knar went through this exact same thing with his daughter, Toni. In the fall of her senior year a few years back, just ahead of what was to be a promising girls basketball season with the majority of the top players returning, Toni suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
Knar will first rehab the knee in order for the swelling to go down in preparation for surgery.
“As a dad I did go through this with my daughter,” says Richard. “You just feel awful for them.”
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