Ultimate "Gym Rat" Looking Forward to CMU Future

Guard Mike Kramer of Cincinnati Oak Hills High School was cut from the team his freshman year. But all that did was cause him to work harder than anybody else. Kramer has excelled on the hardcourt ever since and the college coaches took notice. He had eight Division I scholarship offers, including one from Central Michigan University, which he accepted Sept. 12. Kramer talked about his decision with Chippewas Insider.

Cincinnati Oak Hills High School head coach Mike Price has coached more than a dozen players who went on to play Division I college basketball, but he's quite sure none of them worked harder to get there than Mike Kramer.

"I've coached a lot of D-I kids, but as far as work ethic goes, Mike is one of the best kids I've ever coached," Price said.

Kramer, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, was cut from the freshman team at Cincinnati Elder High School, before transferring to Oak Hills the following year.

"I remember every day the day I got cut, it was one of the worst days of my life," Kramer said. "I prayed about it though and as it turns out, getting cut was probably one of the best things that ever happened to me."

Kramer said he uses that experience to inspire himself to improve his game.

"Every morning I shoot about 100 free throws before school," Kramer said. "In all, I probably spend about three hours a day working to improve my game."

"He's the best 'gym rat' I've ever coached," Price said. "He's made friends with all the maintenance people to let him in the building before school hours."

All of that hard work has not gone unnoticed by the college basketball coaches either. Playing AAU ball this summer for Price's Cincinnati AAU Red program, Kramer displayed his versatility on the court.

"Mike is a very versatile player, he can play the one, two or three slot," Price said. "He's a good shooter and ball-handler but he loves to drive to the hoop."

Many college coaches agreed, including Central Michigan head coach Jay Smith, who Kramer said offered him a scholarship the first week in August. Kramer accepted the scholarship Sunday Sept. 12 after making an official visit to CMU.

"I like CMU so much," Kramer said. "The players are so nice and the coaches are the best.

"I also like the look of Rose Arena," Kramer added. "It's going to be great playing there in front of a packed house."

Kramer said he also considered offers from Eastern Michigan, Ohio, George Mason, Wofford, Canisius, New Hampshire and Vermont, while Bowling Green and Miami University "were going to offer."

"I like Jay (Smith) and Dave Grube a lot," Price said. "I've known coach Grube for a long time and I think CMU is a great program for Mike."

Kramer was the only junior starter for Oak Hills last season, averaging six points and four rebounds per game for a team that finished third in the Greater Miami Conference behind state champion Hamilton.

"Those statistics are a bit misleading until you consider that I had three players on that team who are playing college basketball this year," Price said.

Kramer, who just turned 17 in June, will be expected to be the team's leader this season.

"I bring leadership and high energy to the court," Kramer said. "We're going to be young but we should be good this season."

And due to his young age, Kramer said he might grow to be 6-7 before he gets to CMU.

"Right now I'm about 6-5 1/2," Kramer said. "My dad is 6-6 so I should grow some more."

Kramer's father played football (quarterback) and basketball for Indiana University in the mid-1970s.

Kramer said he must work on getting stronger before he gets to CMU next summer.

"Coach Smith has told me I need to get stronger," Kramer said. "I was recruited to play the two and three at CMU. The main thing I've been working on right now is shooting off the pass."

Price said he has coached a number of Division I players at Oak Hills and in AAU, including small forward Derrick Brown, who recently committed to Xavier. Price said he believes Kramer compares favorably to Brown.

"I think Mike has as much potential as Derrick to develop into a great player," Price said.

Another one of Price's AAU players is Jason Miller, a 6-9 center out of Hamilton High School who has an offer from and made an official visit to CMU last weekend.

Miller is also considering offers from Columbia and Penn, which he plans to visit in coming weeks.

"I told Jason he doesn't need to be playing in any Ivy League when he can come up to CMU and play in the MAC with me," said Kramer, who is friends with Miller.

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