Maturing Kaminsky Focused on Now, Not Later

One of the faces of March, having averaged over 18 points per game on Wisconsin's Final Four run, junior Frank Kaminsky is only worried about Kentucky, not his future plans.

ARLINGTON, Texas The power of March is a curious thing, especially when it comes to defining a player or a coach.

Players and coaches are remembered for what happens in March. Don't believe it? Mention the name of the late great Jim Valvano and you think of him running around looking for somebody to hug after winning the 1983 national championship game at the buzzer, and not the coach who won 346 games. The same could be said for Lorenzo Charles - the man who delivered that winner.

Duke's Christian Laettner, Valparaiso 's Bryce Drew and Connecticut's Tate George all hit buzzer beaters that immortalized them in tournament history, making them be remembered for their stroke of luck and not their entire body of work.

Junior Frank Kaminsky hasn't hit the game winner, yet, but Wisconsin's 7-0 center has certainly emerged as one of the tournament's most recognizable players up until this point.

"It's been crazy, to say the least," said Kaminsky. "It's nice to have this adventure at the same time."

Hard to believe that Kaminsky was averaging only 2.9 points and 1.6 rebounds in 67 games played during his first two years. The UW media guide even described him as a "soft-shooting big man" entering the season.

"Since the beginning of the year, he's grown so much," said junior point guard Traevon Jackson "He's matured mentally so much. I've always told him, ‘man, like you're great. Just believe it.' I'm just so happy that he is really embracing it."

Kaminsky's performances have been eye popping and a main catalyst for Wisconsin (30-7), which will play in the national semifinals for the first time in 14 years when it takes on Kentucky (28-10) here at AT&T Stadium Saturday night.

Through four NCAA tournament games, Kaminsky – a first-team All-Big Ten selection - is averaging 18.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. In victories over Baylor and Arizona, the junior averaged 23.5 points and 7.5 rebounds on his way to being named the West region's most outstanding player.

And he's put up those numbers against a variety of defensive schemes, being guarded by a smaller player off ball screens to limit his outside shooting or being defender by a big man to try to muscle him in the post.

"It's really reading how the defense is playing me and try to create whatever advantage I can for myself and try to exploit that advantage until something changes," said Kaminsky. "It took me awhile to figure it out at this level … This year has been a growth since the start of the season. It's been trial and error with a lot of different things that I've been doing this season. I found something right now that's working with me and I'm going with it."

Kaminsky, who celebrated his 21st birthday Friday, has been so dominant and so good that he's started appearing on the radar of some NBA draft analysts heading into this summer's draft.

Kaminsky dismissed the NBA talk on Friday, saying he's only focused on the team ‘s unfinished goals, and the topic likely won't be broached until UW coach and his staff meet with every player – from the starters to the redshirts – to discuss offseason plans and the future.

"We'll talk after the season," said associate head coach Greg Gard. "Obviously players get a lot of attention (in the tournament), especially those that have success in the spotlight. Frank has done a terrific job of developing, listening and learning, but he'll have a meeting just like everyone else."

While outsiders may be surprised with the rampant development of Kaminsky, those closest to him – his teammates – saw this coming during their scrimmages over the summer.

No longer buried on the bench behind post players Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans, fully recovered from the scratched cornea that sidelined him for a big chunk of conference play as a sophomore and revamping his diet, Kaminsky solidify himself as a contributor early, going for a school-record 43 points in the third game of the season.

"He's got a lot more maturity, even from the beginning of the year until now," said junior Josh Gasser. "He's got a lot different mindset. He's calling for the ball more. He wants the ball on the block more. He's just -- I think he's realized how good he is, and we all realized it, not only like this summer, but just the past Summers, past years, how good he is, how talented he can be.

"Obviously, losing three really good players in the frontcourt last year just gave him more of an opportunity to step in and kind of give him some confidence. So we all saw how good of a player he can be. He just needed to keep growing mentally and getting more mature, and he's done that."


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