Catching Up with Tom Kleinschmidt

In DePaul basketball lore, perhaps no player in the history of the program has personified the grit and determination that define the city of Chicago than Tom Kleinschmidt. Tom Kleinschmidt was a player's player, a throwback, and an overwhelming fan favorite that captivated the DePaul fan base like no other.

Kleinschmidt, a three-time member of the first-team All Great Midwest Team and 1994-1995 Great Midwest Most Valuable Player, is one of only two DePaul players to earn Conference Player of The Year, Quentin Richardson being the other. Kleinschmidt also still ranks in the top 10 in five statistical categories including scoring (fifth), assists (sixth), and three point field goals made (sixth).

Kleinschmidt, now 34, was one of the most well rounded players in school history. He was a jack of all trades. He could score at will, dish to the open man, and rebound well enough for his size. But above all else he was tough as nails with a tenacity that was unmatched in his time at DePaul.

Kleinschmidt looks back fondly on his times at DePaul and has many proud memories. "Playing in the NCAA Tournament my freshman year, that was probably the best team I played on," Kleinschmidt recalled.

Tom praised his teammates who helped him become the player he was like David Booth, Brandon Cole, Will Macon, and Peter Patton among others. He still talks to those guys regularly and actually played in Japan with Booth for some years.

Kleinschmidt remarked that there were so many people that helped him mature in his time at DePaul. "(DePaul Athletic Director) Jeannie Ponsetto still helps me to this day. Joey Meyer and the Meyer family, the relationships I built and still kept to this day is the best thing about DePaul."

His relationship with the Meyers is still rock solid as he follows Joey Meyer's teams in the National Basketball Development League. "I speak to Joey when he is in town," said Tom. "The Meyers are huge family friends, and they'll be lifetime friends. What they have done for me and my family is priceless. They'll always be close to me."

Perhaps, what Kleinschmidt is most revered for was his notorious four point play that had the Rosemont Horizon (now know as Allstate Arena) in awe as he led DePaul past a strong Louisville team that to this day has people still talking about.

"I remember we were down, and we came out of a timeout, and got the ball. I wasn't really looking for a three. But I took it and got it. And they called a foul. Probably all game that wouldn't have been a foul. But for whatever reason I'm glad they did," Kleinschmidt said matter of factly. "It was a very exciting time. Big game. Denny Crum was coach and they had a nice team. Louisville always brings a lot of people to Chicago."

Kleinschmidt has been back in the States for about a year after enjoying professional stints in Japan, Italy, and Venezuela. "It was fantastic," Kleinschmidt said of his days overseas. "First going over there I wasn't too thrilled about going. As I grew and matured a little bit, I really enjoyed the culture and learning new languages and stuff like that. It helped me grow and mature. I fully enjoyed my time overseas."

Tom is now back in school trying to finish up his degree. He is in the real estate business and helping with the building of houses. He's been in and out of the business for the last five years or so trying to move up the corporate ladder.

However, he tries to stay connected with the current program. He says it is hard with being in and out of town a lot. "I'm over there (DePaul) a lot taking classes now. I have eight or nine classes I have to finish to get my degree. I'm trying to chip away at it."

Kleinschmidt, coincidentally knows current DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright from a while back beginning with his experiences at the legendary Five-Star Camp. "I met him through the Five-Star Camp, but I have not spoken to him since I have been back. I have been following them and he's doing a great job. I knew the type of the coach he was. He was really defensive (minded). He's old school, and I like what he is doing with the program. I am a big fan."

While he enjoys his job in real estate, the itch to get back in the game as a coach has definitely piqued his interest, and is something that he would like to explore. "I have been thinking about coaching. It's what I want to do. I want to stay close to the game. I want to give back and try it out for myself," Kleinschmidt confessed. "I definitely will coach in the future. I don't know where or at what level, but I am looking forward to doing so."

Kleinschmidt is now firmly entrenched in his new job and family life. He has now been married for three years with the same girl he was with for 11 years. He has a 15-year-old daughter as well.

While he didn't have the professional career success of former DePaul stars like Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings, or Quentin Richardson, he still holds a special place in hearts of DePaul fans. His grit, guts, and take no prisoners' attitude will forever enshrine him as one of DePaul's best ever.

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