Boys Basketball: Mundelein’s Robert Knar likely out till postseason

Story Image Mundelein, 01/13/12 -- Robert Knar (22) of Mundelein High School gets a fast break lay-up during their game against Stevenson High School on Friday, January 13, 2012 in Mundelein. |Darrell Harmon~for Sun-Times Media

Updated: August 6, 2012 7:28PM

When Sean O’Brien heard the news his heart stopped for a few seconds.

“Then my stomach dropped,” said the Mundelein senior-to-be, a 6-foot-5 wing on the boys basketball team.

Last weekend, nearly a week after Mundelein guard and senior-to-be Robert Knar injured his left knee at AAU nationals in Orlando, Fla., the devastating news was he had suffered a torn ACL.

Knar … ACL tear. It’s a familiar tandem. Nearly three years ago Robert’s older sister, Toni, sustained a similar injury to her right knee. It occurred two weeks before the start of her senior basketball season at Mundelein. It wiped out her 2009-10 season.

“I’m hoping to return in time for the playoffs (in 2013),” said the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder, who verbally committed to the University of Northern Iowa in the spring. UNI men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson, while playing college ball, also suffered an ACL tear.

Knar was scheduled to see a physical therapist Aug. 11. A date for the surgery will be determined shortly thereafter. Dr. Mark Neault will perform it.

Neault fixed Toni Knar’s knee.

“He knows my family too well,” Robert Knar cracked.

It appears humor is helping him get through the initial shock of the setback. Knar put up some serious numbers for last year’s 26-8 Mustangs, averaging 22.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.4 steals. He ranks second all-time in career scoring (1,897 points, behind Kyle Kessel’s 1,920) at MHS and No. 5 all-time in career scoring in Lake County behind former Deerfield star guard Ryan Hogan (2,406).

Mundelein, coached by Robert’s father Richard, lost to Warren in the Class 4A Barrington Sectional final.

“Our goals haven’t changed a bit (for 2012-13),” said Richard, whose 2011-12 varsity featured 12 juniors and a sophomore. “After (the ACL tear) was confirmed, that’s exactly what I told the rest of the team. I know the guys will work hard to have another good season, hopefully get a good seed for the playoffs and then, if all goes well, welcome Robert back.”

One of the first to contact Robert Knar after the injury was former Mustangs standout guard Ben Brust, a junior guard at Wisconsin. Ryan Borucki also reached out to Knar to offer support. Borucki (MHS, ’12), drafted and signed by the Toronto Blue Jays this summer, endured an injury scare (pitching elbow) during the baseball season last spring.

Knar was playing for a Rising Stars club team at AAU nationals when he went down in a lane after a collision with an opponent in a second-round loss July 28.

“He’s handling the news well,” said Richard, vacationing with his family in Arkansas this week. “Knowing Robert, he’s going to work extremely hard to get that knee as flexible as possible before undergoing surgery. Then he’s going to work extremely hard during rehab.”

Dad Knar sees his son, following surgery, sitting in a chair daily and working on his ball-handling.

“I bet he’ll also become a better free-throw shooter and passer because of the injury,” Richard added. “He’ll no doubt have plenty of time to work on those parts of his game as well.”

Bet on the returning Mustangs to play inspired ball in front of their brand-new “assistant coach” during the regular season.

“We’re going to play our hearts out for him and do all we can to keep his spirits up,” said O’Brien. “Rob loves basketball more than anybody I know. Right now I feel bad for him.

“It would be awesome,” he added, “if Rob recovered in time for the playoffs.”

Toni Knar’s right surgically repaired knee is fine now. Better than fine. She is about to begin her junior year at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and she ranks ninth on the Miners’ career list in three-point shooting.

“It was nice hearing from her, too, after I found out it was an ACL injury,” said Robert. “She was in the same boat as I’m in now. She was encouraging and she told me what to expect and what to do now and during rehab.”

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