Prep Basketball

Mount Vernon's all-time leading scorer, Keaton Kutcher hopes for another postseason run

Class 3A, 4A substate play begins Monday night

Mount Vernon's Keaton Kutcher (22) holds up his team\s state qualifier banner after winning their Class 3A substate fina
Mount Vernon’s Keaton Kutcher (22) holds up his team\s state qualifier banner after winning their Class 3A substate final at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Monday, March 2, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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Ed Timm has been a very successful men’s college and boys’ high school basketball coach for a long time. His coaching tree has extensive branches: from Josh Davis at Camanche to Mike Halac at Center Point-Urbana to Scott Rucker at Treynor and on and on.

His own son, Jake, is head girls’ basketball coach at Davenport Assumption.

Timm knows a thing or 10 about the game, but he admits he screwed up three years ago by not putting Keaton Kutcher in his Mount Vernon team’s starting lineup to begin the 2017-18 season. He just didn’t believe freshmen deserved that kind of honor.

“I wasn’t going to start him. He’s a freshman, he’s got to earn it,” Timm said. “The third game he played, he hit 10 3s against Anamosa. It’s pretty hard not to start a guy who makes 10 3s in a game. My stubborness lasted for three games. His ability outlasted my stubborness.”

Kutcher’s ability also produced all-state honors, a trip to the state tournament last year, a scholarship to the University of South Dakota and a bunch of school records. The greatest of those is career scoring: Kutcher fairly recently became MV’s all-time leading point producer.

He has 1,586 and counting. Mount Vernon (15-5) opens Class 3A substate play Monday night at home against Fort Madison (8-11).

“It’s an honor, and I feel like I’ve worked really, really hard for it,” Kutcher said. “It’s just really cool to see something you’ve worked so hard at pay off in the end. Obviously, basketball is about winning, it’s a team thing. But it’s just really cool after four years to have an accomplishment like that.”

“He has really adapted because teams have played him very differently,” Timm said. “Initially he was just a 3-point specialist, you know what I mean? He still shoots the 3 really well, but he has really adapted his game, included other players. just has a more well-rounded game now. That has really shown through this year. Teams have been face guarding, but he’s OK. He still looks to score, but he has done a good job of getting (second-leading scorer) Jayden Meeker involved and other guys, which is essential to us playing winning basketball.”

Timm pointed out how the 6-foot-3 Kutcher is Mount Vernon’s second-leading rebounder and assists guy and leads the team in steals this season. He has become more adept at getting to the hole and using a mid-range jumper.

Because of a general lack of height, Mount Vernon has changed its offense this season from a one-in, four-out approach to five-out.

“Keaton has developed lots of other parts of his game instead of just being a scorer,” Timm said. “He also has become a really good leader for us in practice and games, with his work ethic. It’s really helpful when your best player is also your hardest worker.”

Kutcher averaged 12.9 points per game as a freshman and bumped that up to 20.5 as a sophomore. Last season, he averaged 20.0 a game and is at 22.4 this season.

Kutcher’s career 3-point percentage is 41.0, which is darn good, especially for a guy, as Timm mentioned, who gets as much defensive attention as he does.

“When I was a freshman, (Coach) didn’t bring me up for my defense or to score on drives or any of that,” Kutcher said. “I knew he brought me up because I could shoot the ball, and that helped out the team. One of the things we talked about after the season was that teams were going to face guard me, they’re going to double team me, they’re going to throw stuff at me that will try to frustrate me. How am I going to deal with that?

“One of the things I worked on was my drive game. Along with my pass game. When I was a freshman, I only went to the free-throw line 20 times the whole year. When I look back on that, that’s just unreal to me because going to the free-throw line is such a big part of my game now. I went to the free-throw line 14 times in one game when I was a sophomore. It’s been about trying to expand my game, not being just a shooter. When you’re just a shooter, you are one dimensional.”

Substate quarterfinals will be held around the state Monday in 3A and 4A. Class 1A and 2A district finals are Tuesday.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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