With the completion of the regular season, award season has started in college basketball, and senior Frank Kaminsky has started to reel in the hardware.
After a dominant conference season, Kaminsky was named the unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year on Monday, a bevy of awards the Badgers picked up during the conference’s postseason award show.
Senior guard Josh Gasser was named to the conference’s All-Defensive team for the third time, the first Badgers player to earn three such nominations; head coach Bo Ryan earned his fourth Big Ten coach of the year honors; junior Sam Dekker was a consensus second team All-Big Ten selection and sophomore Nigel Hayes was a consensus third-team selection.
But the big award went to Kaminsky, who joined Devin Harris (2004) and Alando Tucker (2007) as the only Badgers to win the award. Kaminsky averaged 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds to help the Badgers (28-3) win the Big Ten title outright with a 16-2 record. One of those defeats – a 67-62 decision at Rutgers on Jan. 11 – came with Kaminsky sidelined due to a concussion, further solidifying his importance to the Badgers.Kaminsky earns the honor after averaging 1.8 points as a freshman and 4.2 as a sophomore. “I couldn’t have expected this,” Kaminsky said during an interview on Big Ten Network. “Just the progression I’ve made throughout my career has been awesome so far. It’s awesome to win this award and I’m really happy about it, but we know there’s a lot left in the season and hopefully we’ll get some bigger awards.”
A preseason first-team All-American and the conference’s preseason player of the year, Kaminsky also leads Wisconsin in assists, steals and blocks and is the only player in the country averaging at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
Kaminsky has scored in double figures in 24-straight games, including 28 of 29 this season, and has hit the 20-point mark 13 times. Leading the Big Ten in double-doubles, Kaminsky has 10 this season, five of which came in the midst of the conference season.
During conference play, he increased his numbers, averaging 19.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game against the Big Ten. Kaminsky was also named a repeat first-team selection and was a unanimous pick this season by both the coaches and the media.
Ryan was selected conference coach of the year by his Big Ten peers, while Maryland’s Mark Turgeon was selected as the coach of the year by the media. Winning the award for the fourth time in his 14 seasons (2002, ’03 and ’13), Ryan trails only Purdue’s Gene Keady (7) and Indiana’s Bob Knight (5) in coach of the year honors.
Ryan, whose .717 winning percentage in Big Ten games (172-68) is the best in conference history, managed a team that lived up to the high expectations of making the Final Four last season and returning seven of its top eight starters. Even after one of those starters – senior guard Traevon Jackson – broke his right foot in the loss to Rutgers, Wisconsin reeled off 10 consecutive victories thanks in large part to sophomore Bronson Koenig helping steady the ship. UW is 13-1 overall since Jackson was sidelined.Dekker has elevated his play for Wisconsin during the Big Ten season and has had the most productive stretch of his career. The second-leading scorer for UW (13.1 ppg), having scored in double figures in 18 of the last 21 games. Dekker has dramatically raised his field goal percentage from a year ago, ranking ninth in the Big Ten this season shooting 51.5 percent from the field. After winning 2014 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year, Hayes expanded his game and filled a starting role in 2014-15 for Wisconsin. The Toledo, Ohio, native is third on the team in points (12.0 ppg) and ranks 10th in the Big Ten with 6.4 rebounds per game. Known for his all-around game and defensive expertise, Gasser has long drawn the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s top guard/wing. Among the team leaders in steals and charges drawn, Gasser also averages 7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 1.6 apg for UW. The Port Washington, Wisconsin, native holds UW’s career service records for career starts (135), games played (139) and total minutes (4,448).
In addition to Kaminsky, the media team featured Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell (also the league’s freshman of the year), Iowa’s Aaron White, Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell and Maryland's Melo Trimble. Purdue’s Rapheal Davis was named the Defensive Player of the Year and Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni was voted the Sixth Man of the Year by the coaches.