By choosing not to be another face right now at the NBA level, Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky just might become a national face of college basketball next year.
The Badgers junior had a big-time NCAA Tournament, and because of Wisconsin's run to the Final Four, Kaminsky turned himself into a probable first-round pick. But instead of leaving after three years in Madison, he elected to stay at Wisconsin and now, in his own words, Kaminsky is explaining why. And he's doing it in funny, succinct and illuminating fashion.
On Kaminsky's personal blog, The Moose Basketball (OK, A) does he want to be called "The Moose"? and B) the blog's tag line is, "The Moose is on the Loose," so beware!), he opens the reader up to what plenty of talented players endure each March. The blog post is so good, I had a hard time narrowing it down to just two or three grafs. Let's journey through this account together.
So the final game ends in the NCAAs, a team's season is over, and any underclassman with a chance of being drafted gets asked if he's thought about his future and what might come next. It's always always uncomfortable for the players. Kaminsky writes now that he wasn't entirely truthful with the media (nor did he need to be in that moment).
After we lost, I was blindsided by questions about what I was thinking about doing. I mean I had just lost the biggest game of my life to this point, and people were asking me if I was going to stay in school or leave. I had no idea. I was so frustrated and upset with the fact that we just lost, and then I was being asked my future plans when I was stuck in the moment. I think my exact quote was "I'm not going anywhere," but I wasn't sure at that point.
Almost no player is really ever ready to make a decision in that moment; there's way too much to consider and still learn. Kaminsky writes that his father was getting constant phone calls about the NBA, and "the thought of not being broke anymore was very appealing."
I know I am going to college and pursuing my degree free of charge, but it comes to a point where you are tired of being broke. I hate looking in my bank account at the end of the month and seeing 20$ left in there. The appeal of potentially a lot of money would entice any collegiate athlete, or any college student for that matter.
Simple and pointed honesty. Plenty of players -- and just college students -- would read that and powerfully nod. Kaminsky continues:
But playing in college made me realize something. Something important. I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring.
At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sell out crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?
Kaminsky says "pinnacle of my basketball playing career," which would mean he's better playing hoops right now than he'll ever be. That's not what he means, though. He's, frankly, not that excited about the prospect of going from the current environment of college basketball to the irregular arena surroundings in the NBA.
This is something of an unfair knock on the League (just watch the playoffs now), but to a point it's true. The game-by-game atmosphere of college basketball can't be replicated, and credit to Kaminsky for taking these things into account when making the decision.
Next, my teammates have become my family away from home. Admittedly, a dysfunctional family at times, but a family nonetheless. I have become extremely close with almost every player on the team. If I am ever lucky enough to find a potential wife, I am sure I met who would be my best man at the wedding, my roommate Jordan Smith.
The wife line is awesome, Frank, er, Moose.
I haven't won enough in college to call it a career. Yea, we made it to the final four, but that doesn't mean we won something. It's a great accomplishment and few get to achieve it, but it isn't winning it all.
Interesting. Many would consider reaching the Final Four achievement enough, especially at a place like Wisconsin.
I am going to be honest, I absolutely love college. Call me Joe College if you please.
Joe College? Moose? Frank the Tank? We need a verdict from on high!
And here's the last block of text. It's my favorite. For about 14 reasons.
I sat down and thought about it for a long time, and I kept coming back to the same exact point. I don't think I would be able to live with the regret of skipping my last year of college to be a potential D-League player or end up in Europe. I have no doubt in my mind that I would have been drafted. I believe that one day I will be put on an NBA roster, but that doesn't happen right away for most people. Especially for a 7 foot white kid with average athleticism.
The NBA can wait. The NBA isn't going anywhere, so neither am I. I know my benefits of coming back to school just as well as I know my risks. But in this case, the benefits outweigh the risks. I made a commitment to the University of Wisconsin, and they made a commitment to me. Who would have thought that I would be in this position at the end of last season? If any, they wouldn't have been willing to bet on that. If you know anything about me, you would know that I pride myself on being loyal. I will always be loyal to anyone or anything that I care about, and I care about this school and this basketball team. They have become part of my identity and who I am.
The self-deprecation is what bolsters Kaminsky's account here. Knocking his looks and athletic ability only endear Kaminsky to Wisconsin and college hoops fans everywhere. And give NBA honks a reason to scoff. That's fine. Kaminsky's got the goods to potentially make the NBA fans treat him the way college devotees do now.
Kaminsky also lays out how he'd love to one day play for the Bulls. He has family that's worked for the organization, and in fact was around the team facilities plenty when he was younger. He writes about being "star struck" amid sharing a room with Michael Jordan, when Kaminsky was all of 5 years old -- in 1998. (Hey, being old isn't fun.)
We all know college hoops needs stars. It needs faces and names that people, on a basic level, know. Kaminsky gave us that last year, and we'll get him for one more. Good for him, even better for us.
And can't wait for the next post.