Frank Kaminsky; From Local Prep Star to the NBA

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Frank Kaminsky: “I came on really late in my high school career. I started getting a lot of traction at the end of my junior year heading into my senior year, with recruiting and being considered a Big Ten player – it’s hard to get that status and you have to go out and play those games.”

The Humble Beginning for Frank Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky didn’t spend his sophomore year at Benet Academy as a star on the basketball court. He didn’t even spend it with the varsity team. But six years after completing his sophomore year, Kaminsky was chosen 9th in the 2015 NBA draft.

Gene: “I became his coach after his freshman year. And I remember him playing on the sophomore team as a sophomore with is unusual when you think of someone who is playing in the NBA now. He had a very good year there. And he really made strides between his sophomore and junior year and grew quite a bit. And then between his junior and senior year he really took off.

The launch his junior year, a season that saw Benet reach the State tournament’s Super Sectional, propelled him straight into the eyes of recruiters. That year was also Gene Heidkamp’s second as the Redwing’s head coach.

Gene: “I was proud of his progression, he worked really hard to get to where he’s at and he won a lot of games for us while he was here.

Frank Kaminsky: “He’s extremely proud of me and all of the things I’ve accomplished. I can still remember sitting back in the gym with him when I was getting recruited, having all of these conversations about what I want to do, where I wanted to go, how I saw myself. He never doubted me for a second. And that’s something I’ll always appreciate is that he always fought for me to be in the position that I’m in because he saw something in me. But that’s the thing, he’ like that with everyone.

Wisconsin Badger Legend

Where Kaminsky wanted to go – the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After two quiet seasons as a Badger, Kaminsky exploded on to the national scene. Following a breakout junior campaign, he led Wisconsin on a rampage through the big ten and national tournaments his senior season. Wisconsin fell in the national title game, but Kaminsky led the Badgers in virtually every statistic category, earning himself the Wooden, Naismith, and Oscar Robertson Trophy. The Lisle native was also named the national player of the year by the AP, Sporting News and USA Today.

Kaminksy has since spent five seasons in the NBA. The first four in Charlotte and this current, suspend season in Phoenix. And now the NBA sits in limbo.

Frank: “We first started hearing about this awhile ago, way back in December and January. Not really anybody was taking it seriously. I mean, there were a few people in our organization that were giving updates about it how series it was going to be and nobody was listening…. The next thing you know you’re sitting on your couching getting ready to watch the Thunder and Jazz play and… you’re season’s done.”

 What Frank Kaminsky is doing in quarentine

If there’s one lesson to learn from watching Kaminsky’s journey unfold – he is more than capable of shifting gears at a moments notice after seemingly stalling. With the NBA stuck in neutral, the league would be wise to watch out upon returning for Kaminsky.

In the mean time, Kaminsky is doing his own watching… of the ESPN documentary ‘The Last Dance’. Growing up a Bulls fan, Kaminsky’s uncle, Mike Scout, has appeared in the documentary – while his aunt still works with the organization. Even still – there are things he’s learning with the rest of us.

Frank: “Even some of the things you find out like with the whole Rodman taking a mid-season vacation, I was too young to realize that kind of stuff. But now, it kind of makes sense why he needed it because 82 games is a lot of games.”

2010 Benet Basketball Reunion

Even the NBA’s hectic schedule was unable to keep Kaminsky away from his alma mater in February of this year, as the team celebrated its 2010 team.

Frank: “Coming back was a lot of fun because not only does it give you confirmation that you did something very special during your time as an athlete at the school but it goes to show how important those relationships are to all of those involved.

Gene: “I do like to think of our program as a family and we try to keep our alums as close to our program as we can and Frank’s been a big part of that.

Coming from humble beginnings at Benet, Kaminsky is now a bona fide contributor in the NBA. And it wouldn’t surprise many if he takes yet another big step into stardom.

Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman