Last week, as the Colorado basketball alums that comprise Team Colorado paced themselves through a three-day mini-camp, team co-organizer Trent Beckley explained how he took the time to make certain every need was filled on a balanced roster.
Beckley used Levi Knutson as an example of a guy who was there strictly to provide a steady threat along the 3-point arc. No sooner did Beckley point this out than Knutson continued to light up a nearby pickup game with another 3-pointer.
It’s a sweet stroke Team Colorado hopes will remain in form during The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all competition with a $2 million jackpot at stake that begins Saturday in Los Angeles for the CU alums.
“I think last year we brought in anyone we could,” Beckley said. “This year we were a little bit more selective. Levi isn’t going to be the best defender. But Levi can still get hot and score fast from the outside.”
The owner of one of the most improbably successful senior seasons in recent CU basketball history, Knutson is an anomaly among his Team Colorado teammates in that he decided to pull the plug on his playing career a year ago and spent the 2015-16 season embarking on his post-basketball career.
By the time a three-year stint in Germany ended after the 2014-15 season, Knutson was dealing with chronic knee pain. His wife (a Colorado native like Knutson) agreed it was time to move home, and when he’s not shaking off the rust from his game Knutson spends his days as a financial planner working in the Denver Tech Center.
“I knew I was looking to be done when I was over in Germany,” Knutson said. “My wife and I spent three years over there and had a lot of fun. It was an amazing experience. But I had some injuries and my wife and I were just ready to be home and settle down a little bit. It was the right time. We loved Europe, but it’s good to be back and go to all the CU games.”
Knutson never established himself as the CU program transitioned from coach Ricardo Patton to Jeff Bzdelik, posting a scoring average of 4.6 as a freshman in Bzdelik’s first year of 2007-08 that actually decreased each of the following two seasons.
Yet Knutson came out of nowhere as a senior in coach Tad Boyle’s first season, averaging 11.7 points and knocking down 3-pointers at a .474 clip that remains the best single-season mark in program history. Knutson’s patience and perseverance hasn’t been forgotten, as Boyle occasionally cites Knutson as an example of what can happen when a four-year player continues to hone his game.
The knee injuries kept Knutson from competing in The Basketball Tournament a year ago, but he’s enjoying the opportunity to lend a hand in his old friends’ quest to win the jackpot.
“I took some time off after Germany to get healthy, but I’ve been playing some pick-up ball in Denver a couple times a week,” Knutson said. “I’m in decent playing shape. I miss it a little bit but I also love my job.”