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Reliving Frank Kaminsky’s most memorable moments at Wisconsin

Let the good times roll for No. 44.

On Thursday night, the Wisconsin Badgers will honor the career of former forward, consensus National Player of the Year, and All-American Frank Kaminsky.

“Frank Kaminsky Night” will involve pregame and halftime ceremonies during Wisconsin’s match-up against Purdue. Fans should get to their seats by 5:40 p.m. at the latest to catch the full festivities, which will include the Kohl Center court turning into a 3D projection screen and his No. 44 jersey raised to the arena’s rafters.

On that note, we have asked some of our writers to come up with their most memorable moments from Kaminsky’s career.

Check out the latest episode of Bucky’s 5th Podcast for more reflection on Kaminsky. Subscribe here!

Ryan Mellenthin: I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me about Frank was how he returned for his senior season.

“I made a commitment to the school and I don’t think I can turn my back on the people who have been there for me.”

To me, this was unheard of, with all of the collegiate players that bolt for the NBA as soon as they can. He showed a lot of character in doing so and his senior season was one to remember. Not just with the success the Badgers had, but with his personality, holding up the Hunger Games hand gesture when he would hit a three or how he rubbed the Big Ten Tournament trophy while on TV. He was truly one of a kind, “Big Daddy Fupps.”

Owen Riese: I think probably the most memorable game of Frank for me is the Arizona game in 2013–14. He had set the scoring record against North Dakota earlier that year, but this was the real “arrival” of Frank Kaminsky that I will always remember. Also, the picture of Frank riding on the scooter with Bucky Badger for ESPN The Magazine will always, to me, embody Frank’s successes both as a player and a personality.

Drew Hamm: For a man that one time rode on a tank, there has to be a truly resplendent moment to top that. Honestly, Kaminsky had many. His top moment, though, has to be the 2015 Final Four against Kentucky. The Wildcats were undefeated coming into the game and eight of the nine players that saw the court that night have played in the NBA (the only reason the ninth guy hasn’t is because Marcus Lee transferred to Cal and is currently averaging 12 points and 7.6 boards per game there). Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein were the starters for UK’s frontcourt, and the “small” forward for the Cats was 6’10 Trey Lyles, so it’s not like Kaminsky was dealing with a UW-Rock County front line. Shit, Devin Booker came off the bench for this team! Sorry, I’m drifting away from my point.

Kaminsky came into that game with a bunch of awards and confidence but he was probably the third-highest (fourth-highest according to some who were high on Lyles) rated big man in the game. So what did Frank the Tank do? Oh not too much ... he just scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and swatted a game-high two shots and had a team-high two assists (WTH, Bronson Koenig?) in a game-high 37 minutes in a Badgers win. Kaminsky is a bonafide Wisconsin basketball legend and doing it against one of the greatest college teams ever assembled cemented his status as the best player to ever wear the cardinal and white. Also, it was really cool when he rode on that tank. Devin Harris never did that.

Neal Olson: For me, the quintessential Frank moment was setting the single-game record against North Dakota. At the time I remember thinking, if before the season started you were told a player would set the record for most points in a game during the year, Frank would be somewhere around third or fourth-most likely. Ben Brust was always in the running if he got hot from three. Sam Dekker had led the team in scoring in three of the five Canadian exhibition games. Meanwhile, Frank was averaging just over 20 minutes a game and was more known for the goggles-and-headband look he rocked due to injury the previous season. Even after the game, Brust and Josh Gasser were joking that no one would ever remember who held the record.

But that night at the Kohl Center, Frank’s breakout game was a harbinger of the best two-season stretch in Wisconsin basketball history.

Jake Kocorowski: On the floor, Kaminsky’s performances against Arizona in back-to-back years have to be up there. In 2014, he scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half along with grabbing 11 rebounds against the likes of Caleb Tarczewski to tame the Wildcats and help the Badgers advance to the first of their consecutive Final Four appearances.

The next year, he scored 29 points en route to Wisconsin advancing again over Arizona in the 85–78 win.

I think above all, though, Kaminsky’s off-the-court personality is what I remember most. A guy who met Will Ferrell, used a GoPro to record his experiences, and starred in those 2014-15 press conferences, including the one before the Kentucky game that I believe still rates as B5Q’s most-viewed article of all-time.