GLENS FALLS - Out of the 12 players at the Adirondack Wildcats' first practice on Friday morning, only two to three of them are actually going to make the team.
Former Siena guard Scott Knapp might be one of them.
"Any time a guy like him shoots the ball like he does, he has a chance to make any team because there is always a need for perimeter shooting and that's his forte," Wildcats general manager Mike Sweet said of Knapp during Friday morning's practice. "It's going to be tough, but I think because of some of the things he has done, he has a shot at it."
For the remainder of this week, the Wildcats, who tip off their inaugural season this Friday against Brooklyn, will hold practice twice a day at Adirondack Community College or the Glens Falls YMCA. These practices will allow Sweet and Adirondack coach Mike Sanders to decide on players for the roster for the 2002 season.
Fresh off the Continental Basketball Association's Rockford (Ill.) Lightning roster, the 6-foot-3 Knapp is confident he can make a strong impact in the United States Basketball League and with the Wildcats.
"I really think I can help this team," said Knapp, a Sherrill, N.Y., native. "Helping a team win is my main goal. I've never been a selfish player and I never really cared too much about scoring. Sometimes I've had to score in order to help a team win, but I'll do anything it takes to win."
Sanders saw Knapp's ability for the first time in person on Friday. He said he liked Knapp's talent for shooting beyond the 3-point line.
"One of the things I've been very impressed with was his shooting ability. Anytime you have a guy who can shoot the ball, there's always room for him (on the roster) because you never know what you're going to face," Sanders said. "If a team plays zone, you need a guy who can shoot over it."
And that is one thing Knapp can certainly do. He was third on Rockford in 3-point shooting percentage (39 percent) and connected on more than 40 treys. The 23-year-old spent the entire season with the Lightning, where he had a productive rookie year, averaging 4.3 points per game under head coach and former Chicago Bull Stacie King.
In the CBA championship game on April 6, Dakota defeated Rockford, 116-109. Less than a week later, Knapp found himself in training camp with the Wildcats, a deal his agent set him up with after Knapp signed with Adirondack in early March.
Knapp thinks his time in the CBA will increase his chances of playing in the USBL.
"I got my chance and I thought I played well. I thought it was a productive year," Knapp said. "I think it made me learn more about professional basketball. It's definitely going to open some doors for me."
Said Sweet: "He proved himself in the CBA. … he opened up the perimeter rules a little bit and is a guy that could be valuable to us."
No matter what team Knapp has played on, he always stood out as one of the most valuable players. In his senior year at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School, he averaged 21.5 points and 4.7 assists per game and set a New York state record for the most 3-point shots made in a career (288) and a season (108). He left V-V-S as the all-time scoring leader with 1,285 points.
From 1997 to 2001, Knapp was a key player at Siena, especially in his senior year, when he averaged 13.6 ppg, shot 40.6 percent from behind the arc and 88.4 percent from the free-throw line. He was named the team's co-MVP for the 2000-01 season.
In his career at Siena, he made 283 three-point goals, a school record, while setting another as the top free-throw shooter in school history at 89.6 percent. In his freshman year, he was named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's Rookie of the Year and won the MAAC Long Distance Shooter of the Year award for connecting on 76 3-pointers.
Knapp finished his collegiate career as the ninth-highest scorer (1,381 points) in Siena history behind two other potential Wildcats, Marcus Faison (No. 3, 1,697 points) and Dwayne Archbold, who recently passed Knapp on the list.
With the possibility of Faison, Archbold - who was the Wildcats' second pick in last Tuesday's draft - and Knapp playing together on the same team, Knapp said he would find the opportunity of a Siena reunion exciting.
Whether or not that will really happen is a different story.
"It's always nice to have some of that local flavor, but the bottom line is we need to win games," Sweet said. "If we can keep them together, that would be great, but the reality is that we doubt we'll see all three of them on the roster at the same time."
Knapp said he would like to play for Adirondack for several reasons. He wants be close to home so his family could see him play. He'd like to continue to stay in shape and play basketball over the summer. He also liked the way Sanders operated the team and conducted practice.
Even if Knapp isn't what the Wildcats are looking for, he is confident he will fit in just fine with another USBL team. He also isn't ruling out the possibility of playing overseas.
"I think I can play in this league with a couple other teams," Knapp said. "My coach in the CBA (King) asked me if I wanted to play with a couple other teams, but I wanted to come up here first and see if I liked it, and so far, so good."