Log in

Night and day difference between junior high and varsity, but McKnight shining


Adam McKnight had been part of previous Nixa-Kickapoo contests prior to the teams’ meeting this past Wednesday, but they didn’t quite measure up.

“The atmosphere was a lot different than junior high, obviously,” McKight said after the Eagles' 54-52 loss to the Chiefs. “Junior high was nowhere near as loud as this. You don't have a student section in junior high. And, the stakes aren't as high.

“I didn't think too much about the crowd,” the Eagles freshman front-line player added. “Warmups, I was a little nervous. But once the game got rolling, you don't really think about it much. I feel like I stayed calm.”

McKnight is handling everything well while making the gianormous jump from junior high to high school varsity.

He was named to the All-Tournament Team while helping Nixa win the Liberty North Tournament by averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds a game.

McKnight scored seven points at Kickapoo.

“That was a big stage for a freshman and he handled it well,” Eagles coach Brock Blansit said. “He's off to a good start.” 

McKnight got a head start on varsity ball by suiting up for Nixa’s football team this fall. The wide receiver/tight end caught two passes for 71 yards and rushed once for 11 yards.

In regard to hoops, McKnight felt prepared for varsity action thanks to his summer ball experience over the years. He currently plays for Missouri Crush.  

“Playing travel ball since I was six years old, that's always been a crazy atmosphere. It's gotten me ready for this,” McKnight said. “Summer ball is just as intense as this. So, it’s prepared me for varsity. It simulates what (I’m going) through now.”

McKnight is nearly averaging a double-double, with nightly norms of 10.7 points and 9.3 rebounds.

McKnight is flourishing in the paint, but is probably best characterized as a forward. He often shares the paint with center Jackson Cantwell.

They are proving they can play together and complement each other.

“Jackson gets everybody to double-team him,” McKnight said. “If he doesn't make (his shot), I can go get the rebound. I always head to a block when he gets the ball. And, he's a good passer. He can find you.”

The 6-foot-3 McKnight entered the Kickapoo game leading Nixa with 56 rebounds, despite giving up three or four inches to some opposing centers and forwards.

“Yeah, because I see him every day in practice,” Blansit said when asked if he expected McKnight to be such a strong rebounder. “He’s physical, a lot like (2023 Nixa grad Noah Engelman). He's a little undersized for the post. But like Noah did, he finds ways to get the rebound.”