A Dream Come True

Matt Kleinmann is thrilled to be the latest Jayhawk headed to Lawrence.  Next season the former Blue Valley West standout will be a walk-on freshman on the KU men's basketball team.  The 6-10 big man describes his excitement over his college choice.

"It's unbelievable.  It's just a dream come true.  It's going to be a great experience, I know that.  Being at KU alone would be a great experience to me, but getting a chance to be on the basketball court and playing basketball everyday with those guys is exactly what I want right now."

Kleinmann had a scholarship offer from the Pacific Tigers (a 2004 NCAA tourney victim of KU in round two), but elected to stay at home and be an invited walk-on at Kansas instead.

"Part of it was a comfort-factor," Kleinmann explained. "It's close to home and there's family and friends in the area. Part of it is a challenge-factor.  I'm going into it knowing that I'm going to have to prove myself every step of the way.  It's something where I'm going to be challenged every day not just in a game, but in practice and that appealed to me."

Kleinmann's high school coach at Blue Valley West, Donnie Campbell says he's ready for the challenge.

"He runs the floor pretty well.  He's an excellent defender.  I think probably his biggest strength is his leadership.  He knows he has a big time challenge, they have some awfully good players there, but he's the kind of kid that's a worker.  I really think he'll fit in well with the way Coach Self likes to play at Kansas."

With such a big challenge at hand, Campbell knows his former star has plenty to work on, but also a lot going for him already.

"I think with Coach Self's high post offense, Matt is going to have to really work on hitting that 15-foot jump shot at the top of the key. That's his biggest weakness.  I think his biggest strength is he's extremely intelligent and understands how to play and he's a terrific passer from the low block area."

Kleinmann agrees that his passing skills and court awareness should help him at Kansas.

"I think (my best asset) is something big guys usually don't talk about a lot.  I have a good court sense.  I try to be modest about it.  I guess I'm a point guard mind trapped in a big man's body.  Between footwork, passing and playing smart, I guess that's my biggest asset, playing smart."

Put all of those elements together and add a whole lot of hard work and a good college career should emerge.  Coach Campbell thinks that final ingredient of work ethic will make Kleinmann's Kansas career a big success.

"He's got some plusses and he's got some minuses, but I know those minuses will end up being plusses in the long run because he'll work extremely hard at those weaknesses.”

So, what does Matt think his biggest challenge at Kansas will be?

"My biggest challenge will be managing sleep, books and basketball.  I think every challenge I have I'll at least look forward to a positive.  I know every day I go to practice I'll be living my dream just putting on a practice uniform that says Kansas.  That'll be something that'll strike me everyday.  That's something I've always wanted to do and here I am doing it."

Matt Kleinmann is proof that dreams really can come true, and many times they're realized right in your own backyard.

Phog.net Top Stories