A 6-foot-1 sophomore guard for La Crosse Aquinas High, Koenig has been making noise on the AAU circuit with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors. Simply put, the Warriors win when Koenig is on the floor. When Koenig runs the show for the 16U team, the Warriors are 37-8. When he plays for the 15U team, the Warriors are even better with a record of 39-7.
Last weekend at the Bob Gibbons' Tournament of Champions, Koenig averaged 15.4 points and 4.6 assists per game, helping his 15U win the Select Championship. For his efforts, he was named co-MVP along with teammate Austin Mecca in the 15U/9th Grade division.
That award was nothing new for Koenig, as he was named MVP of the 15U division at the Wisconsin AAU State Tournament (Stoughton) and the Hugh Roberts Original Wisconsin Ducks Classic (Wisconsin Dells), as well as being named to the All-Tournament team at the Boo Williams Invitational and the Spice Run 'n Slam All-Star Classic.
Thanks to Tod Kowalczyk, Koenig has grabbed a scholarship offer from Kowalcyzk's old school (Green Bay) and his new school (Toledo). Koenig is no longer a secret, however, as plenty of schools have taken notice of the guard's skills, including Associate Head Coach Greg Gard and Wisconsin, who have invited Koenig to its elite camp June 14-15.
An athletic, versatile point guard who can find open teammates, make shots from the perimeter and can defend, Koenig talks to Badger Nation about the AAU circuit, his recruitment and his relationship with the Wisconsin Badgers.
1, Talk about the last two AAU tournaments you have competed in. Does it mean more to you competing against other top teams in the state of Wisconsin than teams from out of state?
Koenig: I really enjoy competing against teams from Wisconsin because it gives me and my teammates an opportunity to prove that we have the best team/program in the state of Wisconsin. It also allows for our family, friends and high school coaches to have a chance to see us play, which is great.
However, I've played against most of the kids in Wisconsin while younger. At this point, I believe that my teammates and I are more concerned about proving ourselves on the national level and on the Nike circuit. We enjoy the challenge of competing against the very best teams in the country on a weekly basis throughout the spring and I think we've faired pretty well this year to this point. We were able to win the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions this past weekend and we have won something like 23 out of our last 25 games this month.
2, Talk about the versatility in your game. Have you always had the ability to score using a combination of three-pointers, jump shots and points in the paint?
Koenig: I consider myself a combination guard who can play the point as well as play off the ball. My coaches at Aquinas and with Playground usually prefer me to have the ball in my hands. When the offense allows, I feel that I am capable of scoring in all of those ways. I try to take what the defense gives me while making sure to continue to involve my teammates. During the spring, it's important to get guys like Austin Mecca and Cody Wichmann the ball. I will continue to work on getting stronger and improving my skills so that I am able to score in a variety of ways as I get older.
3, What part of your game have you worked on the hardest to refine and what part of your game do you take the most pride in?
Koenig: I have worked the hardest to improve my ability to guard the basketball. Coach Schneider (Aquinas) and Coach Davis (Playground Warriors) demand defensive effort and intensity in order to get quality minutes. I consider myself a team leader and want to set the tone for my team on that end of the floor. I am really focusing this spring on defensive rotations and keeping the ball out of the paint.
I take the most pride in my passing. I enjoy watching my teammates experience success on the floor. I have always been a big fan of unselfish players.
4, What is it like playing with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors 15U and 16U squads? It's the kind of team that can make you a better basketball player in a hurry.
Koenig: Our basketball program is the best in Wisconsin. We have unbelievable coaches and talented players. Coach Davis knows how to use such talent and to get our guys to buy into the team instead of focusing on individual stats like so many other AAU teams. Coach Dannhoff was a Division I college coach the past like….15 years or so….and, he has taught me so much about the game. I really like playing for them.
Our practices are extremely competitive. If you don't bring your best effort, other players will take minutes away from you. We have skilled guys, big guys, athletic guys, etc. Everyone in our program truly appreciates the successes that we experience together. These guys are some of my very best friends and I really enjoy playing with them.
As far as the games go, it's crazy. We always have amazing crowds, especially at the 16U level with J.P. and all of those guys. I have had the opportunity this spring to play against so many talented players that it really helps you understand must how much harder you have to work. I want to be a special player and this program will do a lot to help me achieve my goals.
Playground is also a family. Many of the former players keep in touch and want to know that we are working hard and listening to Coach Davis. They set a tradition of excellence and most of those guys want to know that we understand what an honor it is to wear the purple jersey.
5, What was it like receiving your first two offers from Green Bay and Toledo and can you talk about hose programs?
Koenig: I received my first scholarship offer from Coach Kowalczyk when he was at Green Bay. It was a great feeling of accomplishment to know that my hard work was being recognized. When Coach Kowalczyk left for Toledo, both he and Coach Wardle wanted to make sure that I had an offer from each of their schools.
I know that Green Bay has done pretty well over the last couple of years in the Horizon League. I know a little more about them because they are an in-state school. I am interested to see how they play and what they do offensively with Coach Wardle now in charge.
I don't know too much about Toledo but I'm sure they will get better. I hear they have fantastic facilities, but I have not had the opportunity yet to visit the campus. I'm just really thankful that both Coach Kowalczyk and Coach Wardle thought enough about me as a person and as a basketball player to offer me a scholarship.
6, What schools are showing interest in you and what programs have been out to watch you play?
Koenig: In addition to Green Bay and Toledo…..Wisconsin, Marquette, Milwaukee, Northern Iowa, Iowa, Drake, Minnesota, Loyola-Chicago and Northern Illinois have shown interest in me this winter and spring. Green Bay and Milwaukee both watched me play during the high school season, as well.
7, What is your relationship with the coaches at the University of Wisconsin?
Koenig: I've spoken to Coach Gard a few times. I visited last fall for the Michigan State football game and also came to a basketball game, as well. I had the opportunity to meet Coach Ryan and several of the players. Coach Ryan was really nice and just told me to keep working hard in school and on the court and that good things will continue to happen for me if I do.
The players were all pretty friendly. I spent the most time with Keaton Nankivil and Tim Jarmusz, as well as with Trevon Hughes, J.P. Gavinski and J.D. Wise as they all played for Coach Davis too previously.
I have spoken to Coach Gard a few times recently as he is the person who is in charge of recruiting me. He talks to me about taking care of my school work and about those areas of my game that he thinks I need to work on the most. He invited me and my parents to campus for an unofficial visit in early June and I am also planning to attend the Advanced Instruction Camp in the middle of June as well.
8, What are you hoping to get out of the Badgers elite camp?
Koenig: I am hoping to learn as much as I can over the two days there. I think it's important to really listen well and take in as much information as possible when you are surrounded by great coaches and good players. I also want the coaching staff to know that I work hard and that I am very coachable. In terms of my abilities, I will let my performance at the camp speak for itself.
9, What are you hoping to get out of the rest of the AAU summer schedule and then moving forward into your sophomore season at La Crosse Aquinas?
Koenig: I am primarily focused on just improving in small areas as a team so that we are able to win games. I usually try to focus on short term goals and then move on from there. I plan on using this summer to get stronger and quicker. I believe that with hard work and a dedication to improving my strength that I will be better at the end of games in July. That is really important when your team wins as much as we do because we always seem to play so many games on the last day in tournaments.
I think our team at Aquinas will be better this upcoming season. We have so many talented players coming back and everyone is working really hard to improve. I will have to be much more of a leader this season and I fully willing to accept that role for our team. Our team goals are to win the Mississippi Valley Conference championship and to advance as far as possible in the postseason tournament. I have not set any individual goals for myself for next season as I am much more concerned about our team.