Pioneer Athlete Spotlight on Evan McKnight, Ygnacio Valley High

Pioneer Athlete Spotlight on Evan McKnight, Ygnacio Valley High

Pioneer Athlete Spotlight on Evan McKnight, Ygnacio Valley High

Name: Evan McKnight
School: Ygnacio Valley High School
Grade: Senior
Sport: Basketball

CONCORD, CA (Jan. 24, 2024) — The 6-11 McKnight literally and figuratively sticks out even on a basketball court and this winter he and junior teammate Antonio Kellogg Jr. have captained their Ygnacio Valley Wolves team to a hot start seeking a high North Coast Section playoff seed. “We’ve got a lot of momentum,” McKnight said a day after his 23-point, 16-rebound effort against Diablo Athletic League foe Alhambra.

As an eighth grader at Foothill Middle School, McKnight grew from 5-11 to 6-5 and yes, he experienced growing pains. Up until then he considered baseball his favorite sport with PHBA and Continental Little League. But he also played CYO basketball as an eighth grader for Saint Francis.

During his freshman year at Ygnacio Valley he played baseball because it started early in the condensed spring only pandemic schedule.

As a sophomore with his new height he joined the basketball team with a number of friends who also tried out. He made varsity as a 160-pounder (he now weighs 225). The team struggled and went winless before Michael Woolridge arrived as coach. The team won two of their final games to finish 2-18. He also competed in cross country and track and field as a sophomore and volleyball as a junior.

Last year under coach Woolridge’s full-time mentorship the Wolves qualified for NCS Division IV as the third seed and reached the semi-finals. They then were placed in the CIF D-III NorCal tournament before losing their opener to finish 21-7. For the second year in a row McKnight earned all-DAL honors.

Unstoppable pick and roll dynamic

This season, McKnight has slowed down his growth (“I do measure myself and see small increases”). Woolridge says his center has become healthier, stronger and more mature. Kellogg, a 6-3 point guard, and McKnight have formed an almost unstoppable pick and roll dynamic.

Last summer McKnight toured the country with the Nike-sponsored Oakland Soldiers club team (Lebron James is a Soldiers alumnus) facing tough competition in North Carolina, Indiana, Nevada, Arizona and Southern California.

At Ygnacio Valley he is an active member of the International Baccalaureate program. McKnight wants to go to a college in state, preferably in Northern California so his family, including twin sister Claire, can see him play basketball at the next level.

The Pioneer congratulates Evan and thanks Athlete Spotlight sponsors Dr. Laura Lacey & Dr. Christopher Ruzicka who have served the Clayton and Concord area for over three decades at Family Vision Care Optometry.

Do you know a young athlete who should be recognized? Perhaps they have shown exceptional sportsmanship, remarkable improvement or great heart for the sport. Send your nomination for the Pioneer Athlete Spotlight today to

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.