Riverland’s Klinkner is set to deliver for Blue Devils

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

Last year Riverland Community College sophomore Jace Klinkner established himself as the go-to scorer for the Blue Devils in the midst of the best season in school history.

Klinkner, a six-foot point guard, averaged 20.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season and he shot 48 percent on field goals, 35 percent on three-pointers and 80 percent on free throws. He led the MCAC in scoring, and he received All-Southern Division, All-State and All Region 13 honors.

Riverland Community College’s Jace Klinkner is emerging as RCC’s on-the-floor leader going into the new season. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

It will be tough for him to top those accomplishments this season, but Klinkner is ready to give it a try.

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“This year I’m more motivated and I think the team is too. We’re trying to get to nationals and we’re trying to get that ring,” Klinkner said. “Last year we had a lot of older guys. Darius [Bell] helped me become a leader last year, but this year’s different because we have a lot of freshmen and I have to help them learn.”

With a squad that is heavy on freshmen, RCC head coach Derek Hahn said that Klinkner will hold a huge burden in the leadership department this season. Hahn is hoping Klinkner can also take the next step in improving his game on the court.

“With the transition into the sophomore season, you see guys make improvements and there’s never any time where you see them take a step back,” Hahn said. “The element of the unknown is gone in that second year and guys flourish. For Jace, leadership will be huge because he was in that role as a freshman. We expect a lot of things from him and he knows that.”

If any games are tight down the stretch, it’s highly probable that Klinkner will be taking the big shots for RCC. Last year he was taking those shots and this year he’ll be taking even more.

“He wants to take the big shots down the stretch and he wants to be that guy,” Hahn said. “A lot of times it’s hard to find a guy who’s willing take the pressure and who’s willing to take the big shot and maybe miss it. Jace made so many plays last year and he wants to be in that moment.”

Riverland Community College point guard Jace Klinkner gets ready to shoot a freethrow during a Wednesday practice at RCC. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Klinkner played his high school basketball at Woodbury and the Royals won 20 games in his senior season. He has always been an effective scorer due to his ability to create his own shot with his quickness. Over this past summer he worked on becoming a better passer and he also worked on building up his strength.

“I’m faster than a lot of people who guard me and I like coming off a screen to get my jump shot off,” Klinkner said. “I find my confidence from practice. If you go hard in practice all of the time, it carries over to the games.”

Klinkner has had a passion basketball for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve always played basketball my whole life. I love basketball,” he said. “My mom played basketball too and she coached me a lot when I was younger.”

RCC will open its season in the Minnesota West tournament Friday and Saturday and it will host Luther JV in its home opener Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.