For a while now, we've known Frank Kaminsky will be returning to Wisconsin for his senior season. The Badgers' star 7-footer said so immediately following Wisconsin's Final Four loss to Kentucky on April 6 and later confirmed as much last week.
Thursday morning, we gained even more insight into Kaminsky's decision in a post he wrote on his blog, The Moose Basketball. The entry is illuminating, entertaining and honest -- everything we've come to expect from Kaminsky. It's tough to highlight the best parts, but we'll do our best. Do read the whole thing, though -- Kaminsky needs those pageviews!
On his lifelong NBA dream
My whole life it has always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA, particularly the Chicago Bulls. Since my Aunt and Uncle worked for the Bulls, I was able to go to their practice facility frequently for birthday parties or to just run around. It was always the best when players were around. I remember when I was 5, in 1998, I was in the facility at the same time with Randy Brown, Dennis Rodman, and Michael Jordan. I remember being so star struck, and wanting to be just like them. My Aunt would give me some of their gear, and I wouldn't take it off for days at a time. I would go back home and tell everyone at school that I was Michael Jordan's new best friend and that he gave me some stuff. Too bad no one really cared at that time.
Growing up in Lisle, Illinois, and later attending Benet Academy, it's no surprise Kaminsky's a lifelong Bulls fan. Having that kind of locker room access as a kid and, you know, eventually becoming a 7-footer with shooting range beyond the three-point arc, you can only imagine how long Kaminsky's been dreaming of going pro.
On in-season talk about his draft stock
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.
This came after Kaminsky reiterated his full focus during the season was on the Badgers' NCAA tournament run. While it certainly would've stung if Kaminsky said he wasn't "going anywhere" and then left for the NBA, you certainly can't blame a young twenty-something college student for speaking emotionally after coming this close (sorry) to playing for a national championship.
On his reasons for looking into his NBA options
First of all, who wouldn't want to find out how people at the next level view your potential career as an NBA player. Find out what they think you need to work on, what you do well, and what people are looking for. I believe I would have been stupid if I just ignored all that information.
Secondly, 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.
Lastly, like I said, it has always been a dream of mine. I can't tell you how many times I have thought about being in the NBA. But playing in college made me realize something. Something important.
Pretty self-explanatory. I don't think I need to expound on the allure of going from broke college student to NBA draft pick.
On college vs. the NBA
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 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?
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.
That last line -- if Smith can get some playing time last year, you know we'd have the Big Ten's biggest bromance on our hands. Also, that "boring" line was taken out of context by some around the Internet -- Kaminsky's already offered some additional clarification.
On next season
Last but not least, I am 100% positive we are going to have a great team next year. We lose only one player from a team that made it to a Final Four, and everyone will have another year of experience. I've said this before, and I will say it again. I hate losing, so much to the point where I am willing to do anything to win. I don't care if I average 2 points a game. As long as we are winning I am fine with it. Winning trophies and rings has always been more appealing to me than any individual award. 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. With the pieces we have returning, I believe we can win the Big Ten, and even win the whole damn thing.
Not many -- even outside the Big Ten -- would disagree here.
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.
To wrap things up... I want to say that I love this place. I am exactly where I need to be. The University of Wisconsin has provided me with an opportunity to be the best I can be. So why not provide the University of Wisconsin with the best basketball team that has stepped foot on this campus?
Well said, Frank. We're glad to have you back next year.