Frank Kaminsky made a gamble on himself and his teammates last year. And with each passing game, it's becoming clearer that he made the right choice.
Wisconsin's sharp-shooting big man decided to return despite being a surefire lottery pick in last year's weak draft class. Now he's got the best of it all; his team is heading to the Final Four for a revenge matchup against Kentucky, his NBA stock has never been higher and he got to spend another season zipping between classes on one fly scooter.
But don't wrap the bows on a dream season for Kaminsky just yet. This is just the beginning.
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Because regardless of what happens during March Madness, this 7-footer is about to become one of pro basketball's most interesting stars in the making.
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It's not often that you have a college basketball player who averages 41 percent from behind the arc.
When that type of shooting comes in a center's body, scouts take notice. Quickly.
DraftExpress ranks him as the No. 1 senior in this year's class, and predicts he'll be around the 10th pick in June's NBA Draft. ESPN has him at 13th, while Hoops Rumors suggests he'll be around 17th.
Remember, Kaminsky was only a three-star prospect coming out of high school at Benet Academy in Illinois. Now he's leading his team with 18.4 points and eight rebounds per game, and has them a game away from a championship.
In some ways, the talented senior is suffering from those low expectations. Highly-rated players in high school tend to get drafted high too, based on perception alone. Even if they didn't perform well in college, they're given the benefit of the doubt.
But while bashing with Arizona's bigs on Saturday, Kaminsky led his team with 29 points and six rebounds in the 85-78 win.
He may not be the most impressive athletic specimen, but he knows how to step his game up when it matters most.
For that reason alone, he may also be the draft's most pro-ready talent.
Whichever team picks up Kaminsky this summer will come away with the draft's ultimate low-risk, high-reward player.
At the worst he'll be another Tyler Hansbrough or Brad Miller. Low athleticism, but solid midrange shooting to go with some height down in the paint.
At his best? Well, think a poor man's Dirk Nowitzki.
Yes, it's typical to compare every three-shooting big to Dirk, but in this case the comparison holds water. Neither Kaminsky nor Nowitzki are athletic specimens. And both have a slow, high-point release that scouts worry will get blocked at the next level.
But what allowed Dirk to have a Hall-of-Fame worthy career was his ability to create space with his large frame, making up for his winding release.
Give Kaminsky time, and he'll develop those tricky veteran moves to get space and shoot easily over would-be defenders. In some future NBA game, you just might see Frank the Tank pulling one of Dirk's dirty, leaning step-back shots.
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