Wisconsin danced their way to the Final Four before falling to coach John Calipari’s Kentucky young squad during March Madness last year. And this time around, the Badgers are looking to get over the hump in hopes of achieving a national championship.
One big factor – literally – for Wisconsin’s success is 7-footer Frank “The Tank” Kaminsky. The power forward, also known as “The Moose,” has given coach Bo Ryan three solid years so far, and this season is proving to be not exception.
The senior has helped the Badgers to a No. 3 ranking in the AP Top 25 with a 31-3 (16-2) record and were first in both the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament. Their first loss was to No. 4 Duke before being upset by Rutgers, who is dead last in the Big Ten. The Badgers’ third loss came in the last stretch of the season to No. 14 Maryland.
He recently got a puppy, but now it’s time for a national title. So as the Badgers prepare for the tournament, here’s what you need to know about No. 44 Frank Kaminsky:
1. Kaminsky Is Ranked Within The Top 10 in Six Big Ten Conference Stat Categories
Kaminsky has definitely stepped up not only as a senior for the Badgers, but also in the conference, which has grabbed the attention of the media.
He leads the Big Ten in defensive rebounds – averaging 6.8 per game. He is the 4th-highest scorer in the conference with an average of 18.2 points per game. And he is second behind Michigan State’s Branden Dawson for rebounds per game – averaging 8.3.
Oh and don’t let his height fool you, Kaminsky has range. He’s 10th in 3-point percentage – 39.5. And fifth in both blocked shots – averaging of 1.6 per game – and shooting percentage – 55.3 percent from the field.
2. Kaminsky Holds The Badgers’ Single Game Scoring Record
Last year as a junior Kaminsky broke the Wisconsin single game scoring record against North Dakota.
It was November 19, 2013 and just the fourth game of the season for the Badgers, when Kaminsky made school history by scoring 43 points. He was 16 of 19 from the field including a perfect six of six from 3-point range and five of six from the charity stripe. With this performance Kaminsky bypassed both Ken Barnes, who scored 42 against Indiana in 1965, and Michael Finley, who scored 42 against Eastern Michigan in 1994.
3. Kaminsky Was a 3-Star Recruit Coming Out of High School
Scout, Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN all listed Kaminsky as a 3-star recruit coming out of Benet Academy in Lisle, Illinois.
As a senior, he averaged 14.2 point, 8.7 rebounds, 4.2 blocks and 2.8 assists per game. Kaminsky was named first team all-state by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and the Chicago Sun-Times. And the Associated Press named him as second team all-state. Kaminsky was also named all-area, all-conference and East Suburban Catholic Conference Player of the Year.
Rivals reported that in addition to Wisconsin, Kaminsky had offers from Bradley, DePaul, Northern Illinois, Northwestern and Southern Illinois.
And upon signing him, coach Bo Ryan said:
Frank’s development has sky-rocketed over the past six months. He went from having a hard time getting on the floor in AAU the summer before his junior year, to having a large contingent of suitors by the following spring. He’s long, skilled and has a knack for finding the basket. His dad was a former college player and coach so he’s been taught the right way from day one. A very good student at a very challenging school – he fits the profile of what a student-athlete has to be at Wisconsin in order to be successful. Our staff is really excited about what the future could hold as Frank continues to grow and develop. I know he is excited to have a great senior season at Benet and then move on to what’s next for him. Badger fans will enjoy watching him mature in Cardinal and White.
4. Kaminsky Is Ranked as The 10th Overall NBA Draft Pick
On March 29, 2014, following their 64-63 overtime win against No. 1 seeded Arizona in the Elite Eight round of the tournament, Wisconsin advanced to the Final Four and Kaminsky was named West Regional Most Outstanding Player.
Then at the conclusion of the season, the big man was named to the First Team All-Big Ten.
While he was projected to be a late-first round pick for the 2014 NBA Draft, Kaminsky bypassed to return to Wisconsin for his senior year. In his blog he wrote:
I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring.
At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sell out crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?
This year, Kaminsky is projected as 12th-pick in the 2015 NBA Draft – falling between Duke’s Justise Winslow (No. 9) and Texas’ Myles Turner (No. 11). He’s also considered the top pick for seniors, according to DraftExpress.
5. Kaminsky Made a Dance Video to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” With No Help From His Girlfriend
College is a time of fun times and finding yourself. And for Kaminsky, he takes both to the extreme. He has his own blog and ESPN.com’s college basketball reporter, Eamonn Brennan, described him as “college basketball’s No. 1 ambassador for pure college-ness.”
Kaminsky also takes to social media to post about life – you know, hoops, his new puppy Khali and his girlfriend of one year Deme Morales, who plays on the Wisconsin volleyball team.
And while Kaminsky is one of the nation’s best hoops players, he still finds way to have fun and show his sense of humor off the court. He likes to do what every college kid does – you know, play FIFA ’15 and dance to T-Swift chart-topping hits.
Watch as he teams up with Wisconsin’s male a cappella group, Fundamentally Sound, to showcase his dance moves to Taylor Swift’s hit song, “Shake It Off.” (warning: your views on Kaminsky may be changed…forever.)
While it’s probably safe to say fans won’t be seeing the Badgers’ big man competing on the show “So You Think You Can Dance” anytime soon, they’ll all find out soon enough just how far into the tournament Wisconsin will be dancin’.