The divisive play of Trevin Knell

Trevin Knell had an uneven season with BYU, but does he still impact the game outside of his shooting ability?

Trevin Knell celebrates as BYU completes their comeback over TCU.
Trevin Knell celebrates as BYU completes their comeback over TCU. / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

This article will start a little differently; I'm going to list random numbers, and your job will be to solve their meaning. If you can tell me what these numbers are, you win the prize and I will personally come to your home or place of business to shake your hand in congratulations.

Here are the numbers:

  • 19, 7, 18, 8
  • 10, 1, 15
  • 2, 9, 0, 10
  • 13, 2, 7, 20

I'm not going to tell you their meaning right away--you're going to have to stew on this. Using context from the title of the article, your only hint is that these numbers likely have something to do with BYU guard, Trevin Knell.

Trevin Knell is a 6'5" junior from Woods Cross, Utah. In high school, Knell was lauded for his quick release and 3-point marksmanship. According to ESPN's scouting report, Knell "has good length at the shooting guard position for the next level. [He] has the mental toughness and the shooting mechanics to be counted on." It's no surprise to learn that the former 3-star recruit received offers from all over, including Washington State, Air Force, Cal, and Wyoming. Everybody wants a dependable shooter, but nobody wants one more than Mark Pope's BYU.

The Cougars had a breakout season in the Big 12, largely thanks to their forward-thinking style of play: preferring the 3-ball over inside shooting. On paper, Knell is the perfect player to plug into Mark Pope's offensive system. He shot 38.5% from beyond the 3-point arc this season and limits turnovers. While not a plus-defender, he plays hard and puts in the effort to get stops on the defensive end.

Trevin Knell
Trevin Knell walks through a high-five line following BYU's win over San Diego State / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

By looking at his per-game stats, you'd be inclined to see Knell as the keystone of BYU's long-ranged offensive attack. Low-waste, high-efficiency 3-and-D types are commodities in modern-day hoops, after all. But just as Poison so eloquently informed us, every rose has its thorn. For many Cougar fans, the thorn in their paw this season has been Knell's consistency (or lack thereof).

Do you remember those numbers I shared with you earlier? You know, the random lists of numbers that I promised I'd explain when the time was right? You just scrolled back up to the top of the article to double-check, so I know you remember. Those numbers were Knell's points-per-game in consecutive games throughout this season. Following high-scoring games, Knell often laid an egg

Knell's scoring output is often reminiscent of a treadmill's display while on the "random" setting, or music bars (these things! Didn't know they had a name, did you?). The peaks and valleys seem to appear alternatingly, or completely randomly.

Ain't no mountain high enough, and ain't no valley low enough to convince me that Knell's scoring numbers by game aren't completely random. It's nearly impossible to anticipate if he will be a significant contributor or an offensive liability on a game to game basis. Knell embodies one of the biggest problems with BYU basketball this season: inconsistency. We never know if he's about to drop 20 points on great efficiency, or if all his scoring will come from the free throw line (where he rarely visits more than once in a game).

If I can quickly counter my point, sometimes basketball is a streaky sport. Even the best players in the world can go cold or catch fire at a moment's notice. It would be unfair to expect Knell to never have a bad game or underproduce--that's the nature of the game. My biggest concern isn't that he occasionally has a dud game or two, it's that he can't consistently produce in his role.

Impact players find ways to contribute when their shot isn't hitting the mark. A shooter who goes cold from long-range can make plays for their teammates, cut to the hoop for easier shots, or play tough-as-nails defense on the other end. Valuable players can make their value apparent, even when their primary function is out of order. When Knell struggles to score, I struggle to find reasons to keep him on the court. Sure, streaky shooters can shoot themselves out of a slump, but they can just as easily shoot their team out of the game.

Trevin Knell
Knell digests the Cougar's second loss against Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

When Knell is on fire, it's some of the most beautiful basketball BYU fans could witness, but when he's ice-cold, I don't want Mark Pope to give Knell the Dion Waiters green light.

"I'd rather go 0-for-30 than 0-for-9, because you go 0-for-9, that means you stopped shooting. That means you lost confidence."

Dion Waiters

This confidence is the reason that Waiters doesn't play NBA basketball. No team in the league could trust him to score, and he trusted himself to a fault. Knell will likely never play NBA minutes, but finding better ways to contribute when the shots aren't falling will be key to the Cougars' success in his upcoming senior season.

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