"I honestly wasn't that interested (in Ohio State) out of high school because I wanted to go a little further from home and they ended up going a different direction too," Madsen, a product of Dublin (Ohio) Coffman, said.
As a result, the three-star power forward prospect wound up committing to Vanderbilt after landing scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Clemson, USC and Central Michigan. He narrowed his list to Clemson and Vanderbilt before selecting the Commodores citing his closeness with the coaches and players in the program.
The Buckeyes welcomed in two recruits that season: four-star junior college shooting guard Sylvester Mayes and three-star power forward Brayden Bell. Both would subsequently transfer from the program after lettering during the 2005-06 season.
One year of redshirting later, Madsen realized he had made the wrong choice. He was subsequently released from his scholarship and wound up coming to OSU after also considering Dayton.
Now as a senior, the 6-9, 250-pound Madsen heads into the Big Ten tournament as the only Buckeye reserve guaranteed to see action each night. His stat line this season – an average of 2.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 12.5 minutes of action – is nothing to shout about, but his presence has been vital for an OSU lineup that often relies on several members to log 40 minutes each game.
"I like to think that when I'm out there, I'm making the open shot and I'm doing a good job running the play and getting other guys open so they can make their shot," he said. "Then when the ball does go up on the rim I'm crashing the glass. I might not always get the rebound but I'm blocking out and somebody else is coming down and getting the rebound."
Trust is key to earning playing time on Matta's team. The coach has given Madsen as much playing time as he has this season because he believes that the center will do exactly what he is asked to do while on the court.
"Kyle's going to do what Kyle's supposed to do and that's something that is obviously very effective for us," Matta has said on more than one occasion this season.
Madsen has set four career highs this season, one of which was breaking double digits in scoring for the first time when he scored 11 points in nine minutes during a road victory Feb. 10 at Indiana. He has displayed a jumper that junior forward David Lighty said he never missed during summer open gym workouts, shooting 56.7 percent (34 for 60) from the field this season.
"I didn't really know too much about him when I first met him, but once you first saw him play you could tell he played really hard," junior guard Evan Turner said. "The way you play in practice is the way you play in games. I'm not surprised at all."
His 75 points this season are more than he scored as a sophomore (18) and junior (31) combined.
"He's always positive," Lighty said of Madsen. "He always comes in and works hard and does the little things. This being his senior year, you couldn't be more excited for the guy. He's hit some big shots for us."
Holding down a substantial role on a team poised to make a run in the NCAA Tournament seemed like a tall order when Madsen first arrived on campus. Sporting a shaggy haircut, Madsen weighed in around 250 pounds. It was not good weight.
He was listed at 240 the next two seasons before getting back up to 250 this season by putting on some muscle. His appearance during his early days on campus left an impression on Turner, first as a recruit and then again as a player.
"When I first met Kyle, he was like 255 (pounds) and they were saying he's on the team," Turner said. "I was thinking, ‘This kid is huge. He can't even move.' I came back and I was starting summer school my freshman year and he came up and started talking to me and I had no clue who he was. They were like, ‘That's Kyle.' I was like, ‘You used to be big and fat right?' "
Now with his five-year college career coming to an end, Madsen said he will miss his teammates more than anything else at OSU. He is also proud of the mark he has been able to leave on this year's team.
"It's a good feeling, definitely to me since I've been in the other position where I knew I wasn't going to get in," he said. "I'd much rather know that I'm going to get in the game and know I'm going to get those minutes. It's easier to prepare yourself mentally that way."