Few had heard of Frank Kaminsky until midway through this past basketball season. It was at that point the Benet Academy center began to emerge.
"As the season went on, I started to get more confident in myself and my team. We started playing great. It was just coming for me."
Like so many late developers, a growth spurt gave him a newfound advantage playing basketball.
"I grew three inches since last basketball season. I feel like I'm still growing. I hope so. Seven foot looks kind of nice."
With improved size and skills came more interest from colleges. He is now performing under Coach Mike Mullins with the 17 and Under Illinois Wolves team. He has helped them to an outstanding record so far this spring.
"I've just been playing hard, doing what the coaches tell me to do. We're all trying to play our roles, so I'm just trying to do what Coach Mullins tells me to do."
Mullins enjoys talking about Kaminsky's progress to date.
"It's been an amazing growth spurt for him as a player. He has grown from 6'-7" to 6'-10 now, and he might even be a little taller than that. He has the biggest shoe size in the program, 17. So he may keep growing. There's height in his family.
"With big guys, with a growth spurt comes awkwardness at times, and it takes getting used to your body. It all starts clicking at different times.
"At the end of the high school season, Frank came on and had some really good games. He had 39 in a state playoff game. He had 15 and 9 against Simeon in a double overtime game with 7 blocks. He's really picked up right from there."
At this time, he backs up Illinois commitment Nnanna Egwu in the post. Playing against someone as big as him has proved beneficial.
"It's great," Kaminsky admits. "He's so good at blocking shots and knowing which way I'm gonna move. He can play behind me and still block my shot into the stands. He teaches me to have more patience and stay in the flow of the offense."
Mullins also sees benefits in Kaminsky competing against Egwu.
"It helps him tremendously to battle against Nnanna all the time in practice. We have two 6'-10" guys, and Frank's starting to think, "I'm 6'-10" too, and I'm pretty good.' Once you get your confidence up and your body follows, players tend to go to another level. Frank's in that process now."
At times, the two play together and have found they have good chemistry.
"It works out well," Kaminsky explains. "With him and me in the offense, we can run a high-low offense great. He and I both know where we want the ball, and we both know how to pull for each other. It's wonderful to play with him."
Kaminsky developed confidence with his high school team, but more is needed. He is competing against many top centers in AAU ball, and he has yet to become aggessive in that setting. He has a frame that can put on weight and strength, but that hasn't happened yet.
"Yeah, strength is a problem. I need to work on that more. I just need to get stronger and put on some more weight."
Mullins provides more detail on that subject.
"He can shoot and catch the ball, and he recognizes things in a game. It's more physical maturity now, weight training and stuff like that. Nnanna may be a little ahead of him in the physical areas right now, but in the skill area Frank's pretty good.
"Nnanna's gone through a lot of physical change and is more mature. Frank has yet to undergo that. That too will come with time. He's a broad shouldered, big body kid, and he just has to grow into it. He and Nnanna are going to be different type players."
Illinois is always searching for quality bigs since they are hard to find. If Kaminsky continues to improve, Illini coaches may wish to consider recruiting him, especially if he's amenable to redshirting to continue his development. But that hasn't happened yet.
"Illinois hasn't contacted me. I'd have an interest if they did. They have great basketball, and I'd love to go to a school like that. I want to go bigger or higher, wherever I can go. That would be great."
That hasn't stopped other schools from offering him scholarships. Among them are Wisconsin, Northwestern, DePaul, Northern Illinois and Bradley. He continues to have interest in everyone. He says he's not a lock for Northwestern despite the fact several family members have gone there.
"I wouldn't guarantee it. I like the school, it's a great school. I would love to go there, but it love to go to some other schools too."
He's not ready to dominate yet, but considering how much he's improved in the past year, Mullins thinks it is possible down the road.
"He's still got a ways to go and a lot to learn, but he's a different player from what he was a year ago. A year ago, he didn't even travel with us to the national tournaments.
"He's a wonderful kid to sit and bide his time. It's starting to come now, and we're really happy for Frank and his family. Gene Heidcamp (Benet coach) has really done a wonderful job with him as well.
"Every year I get a lot of calls from people looking for someone 6'-10" to 7 feet. There's not a lot of them, and there are very few that are as highly skilled as Frank. He's not the athlete Nnanna is right now, but he's got a great skill set."