Growing up next to a golf course with a basketball court in his basement, Jaxon Knotek wasn't sure if he wanted to play golf or basketball in college.
Now, after finishing his high school basketball career as the third leading scorer in River Falls history, his choice is looking good.
Knotek will head to North Dakota State University on a Division I basketball scholarship next year after becoming the first player in River Falls history to be named Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
But first, he will get to represent River Falls one last time as a member of the Division 2 North team at the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game Saturday, June 16, in Wisconsin Dells.
Jaxon is the second member of the Knotek family to play in the WBCA All-Star Game. His sister Lexi was picked for the team after her senior year with the Wildcats in 2013.
"I remember watching her and I watched the boys game and I thought it was pretty cool," Knotek said. "So I'm looking forward to it."
Knotek's 1,136 career points ranks third on River Falls' all-time list behind 2014 graduate Luke Murphy's 1,366, and 2006 grad Jake Voeltz's 1,306. A three-year starter with the Wildcats, Knotek averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 73 career games.
But even after starting all 24 games for the Wildcats his sophomore season, he was still torn between golf and basketball.
"Honestly, my sophomore year I didn't know whether I wanted to play basketball or golf in college," he said. "I wasn't sure I wanted to play basketball until my junior year."
Wildcat head coach Zac Campbell recognized Knotek's talents a lot earlier.
"Jaxon has always been a gifted athlete, watching him from fifth grade on up," Campbell noted. "However, the change we saw in Jaxon following his freshman year is the time he put in, the commitment he made to becoming better, and the purpose he had in his workouts was a game changer for him."
Knotek also grew four inches over the last three years, including a three-inch spurt between his sophomore and junior seasons, to go from a 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore who played mostly guard to a 6-6 senior who could play anywhere on the court.
"I think it gave me a little bit more of an advantage to score with having the length and being able to shoot over people," he said. "And I was still able to handle the ball and take it off the dribble as well."
In addition to having the talent, Campbell said Knotek's work ethic is what took him to the next level.
"Jaxon's in-house workouts were valuable not only to him, but to all those in the gym who have committed themselves to do the uncomfortable things to become better," the coach said. "Jaxon has never been an excuse maker and holds himself to a high level of accountability, which is a must if you have aspirations to gain the accolades he's received."
Knotek said the decision to commit to North Dakota State University before his senior season was an easy one.
"They contacted me during summer AAU ball at a tournament in Milwaukee," he said. "I went on an unofficial visit and it was just a feeling; I really liked it a lot. Then I went back for an official visit and that just sealed the deal for me. I ended up making the decision right there.
I really like the coaching staff; they're all really great," he added. "Their personalities are all different, which I like because every single thing you could want in a person is in that coaching staff. And the players, obviously I'm going to be living with them for four years, and they are all great as well. And they have new facilities and a history of success, so I'm excited."
Knotek said he'll miss his Wildcat teammates, especially his fellow seniors who he's been playing with since third grade.
"It's really hard to see that end," he said. "Just to see the cohesiveness of the team. And I'll miss the coaching staff. They were hard on us, but in a good way because they want the best for us."
While Knotek is choosing basketball over golf in college, he's no slouch on the links either. After earning All-BRC honors the past two seasons and qualifying for the WIAA State Golf Tournament as a junior in 2017, Knotek is looking forward to returning to state as a senior.
"If we can ever get outside," he cracked.
Knotek will suit up for the Division 2 North team against the South at the WBCA All-Star Game Saturday, June 16, at Justagame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells. The WBCA All-Star games feature the top senior basketball players in Wisconsin and are a fundraiser for the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer). To help sponsor Knotek, visit www.wisbca.org/donatecreatemyad.