How John Konchar went from West Chicago High to the NBA

  • Memphis guard John Konchar -- a West Chicago High School graduate -- has played an increasingly important role for the Grizzlies this season.

    Memphis guard John Konchar -- a West Chicago High School graduate -- has played an increasingly important role for the Grizzlies this season. Associated Press

  • Ja Morant (12) and teammates give John Konchar good-natured razzing after a TV interview following Konchar's stellar performance in a Jan. 13 victory over Minnesota.

    Ja Morant (12) and teammates give John Konchar good-natured razzing after a TV interview following Konchar's stellar performance in a Jan. 13 victory over Minnesota. Associated Press

  • John Konchar at West Chicago High School in 2013.

    John Konchar at West Chicago High School in 2013. Daily Herald file Photo

 
 
Updated 2/25/2022 9:41 AM

As a junior at West Chicago High School, John Konchar averaged 19.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.

At the end of the season, Wildcats coach Bill Recchia nominated Konchar for DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year honors.

 

"He didn't get a single vote," Recchia said.

His senior year at West Chicago, which moved from the DVC to the Upstate Eight, Konchar had a monster season.

The 6-foot-5 shooting guard averaged 28.9 points, 14.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He scored 49 points in a game against South Elgin, 47 against Bartlett and 45 vs. St. Charles North.

College recruiting interest was shockingly low, so Recchia contacted every NCAA Division I school in Illinois.

"He got one offer," Recchia said, "and it came late."

No schools in his home state wanted him so it was Purdue Fort Wayne that was lucky enough to land Konchar, who tore up the Summit League for four years and exited as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. The Mastodons joined the Horizon League in 2020.

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Exiting PFW as the first player in D-I history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 500 assists and 200 steals, Konchar did not hear his name called in the NBA draft.

Noticing a trend here?

"It was constantly hurdle upon hurdle upon hurdle thrown in front of John," Recchia said. "He overcame every one. So to the extent of did I expect John to be an NBA player? No. Am I surprised John is an NBA player? Absolutely not. Am I surprised with his success? Absolutely not."

Passed over in the draft, Konchar signed a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies in July of 2019 and made his pro debut in the G League for the Memphis Hustle.

After averaging 12.2 points and 8.5 rebounds in 20 games, he joined the Grizzlies and showed enough to earn a four-year, $9 million contract in November 2020.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Memphis is in town to play the Bulls Saturday night and the 25-year-old Konchar has become a key player for the upstart Grizzles, who are running third in the Western Conference.

"He's just a spark for us coming off the bench," star point guard Ja Morant told The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. "He never complains with his role. He does it at a very high level."

Averaging over 4 points and 4 rebounds per game, Konchar erupted for 15 points and 17 rebounds in the Grizzlies 116-108 win over Minnesota on Jan. 13. In a 127-102 win over Sacramento on Dec. 26, Konchar had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

He continues to surprise most, but not his old high school coach.

"I don't think John uses the, 'Hey, you snubbed me, I'll show you,' as motivation," Recchia said. "I know John pretty well and he plays the game of basketball really, really well. When I coached him, the thing that stood out the most was the way he saw the floor. He was unlike any player I've ever seen. John's internal motor is the thing, and he's just really good at what he does."

Recchia won't be able to make it to the United Center for the Grizzlies-Bulls game, but he has seen his former player in a handful of NBA games and still stays in touch.

"He's still the same guy," Recchia said. "John is John, the same levelheaded, down-to-earth guy he was when he was a 16-year-old kid and I first met him. He wasn't playing much early but I had a good feeling things were going to turn his way because, again, it's put up an obstacle and he jumps through it."

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