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Frank Kaminsky’s personal growth led to his legend at Wisconsin

Frank Kaminsky may have led the Badgers to back-to-back Final Four appearances, but none of it happens without a great personal story of growth and commitment.

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Frank Kaminsky will go down as one of, if not the greatest players to put on a Badgers basketball uniform in history. On Thursday night that truth will be spoken in the form of Kaminsky having his number retired by the Wisconsin Badgers prior to the tip of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers.

But, Kaminsky wasn’t always guaranteed to be a success story at the collegiate level. He came to UW as a somewhat skinny 7-footer with a jump shot, ranked as the No. 242 ranked player in the country and the No. 23 ranked center in the nation. Not exactly the stuff that would make up legends.

Four years later and Kaminsky would leave the Badgers to an appearance in the national championship game and become consensus national Player of the Year. His rise from freshman nobody to senior star is well-documented, but it’s also a story with telling over and over again, because it’s a great story of personal growth and a reminder that hard work matters as much as skill does.

According to an article by Jesse Temple at Land of 10, Kaminsky thought himself to be out of shape and saw it hindering his chances to contribute at Wisconsin. The culprit? Qdoba.

He worked hard in the offseason and returned for his sophomore year down in weight and body fat. But, Kaminsky still wasn’t ready for the big time, averaging just 10.7 minutes, 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds

Few saw the next two seasons coming, including now head coach Greg Gard, who candidly said he wasn’t sure if Kaminsky would ever be a player at Wisconsin.

“The path he came on from when he was a freshman to a sophomore to where he finished is unbelievable in terms of how he improved, how he grew,” Gard said, via Land of 10. “Obviously, he is a poster child in terms of a player putting in so much time and such a commitment to develop and make yourself into what he was and is.

“He wasn’t very good as a freshman. I didn’t know if he could play for us. And then he committed himself to a lot of work, a lot of time on his own. He changed his body, changed some of his habits, really committed himself to it and then also figured some things out. He grew into his body a little bit, too.”

The ability to look inward for change was huge for Kaminsky’s growth, and after two years of that hard work he became a force for the Badgers out of nowhere.

His junior season was impressive, as Kaminsky averaged 13.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. That was just a taste of what Kaminsky could do though. He continued to work on his post game and became nearly unstoppable as a scary mix of sharp-shooter, low post force and defensive dynamo.

Kaminsky’s final season saw him put up a crazy stat line, Badgers uniform or not. He averaged 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.5 blocks per game, while also shooting 54.7 percent from the field and a UW-career best 41.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Those numbers helped him leave Wisconsin with a degree and one of the greatest single seasons and careers in program history. What is really unique is that you won’t be able to tell the story of Frank Kaminsky just by looking at the record books alone. His name appears inside the top 10 of just two major categories (field goals and field goal percentage) outside of being No. 1 in blocked shots. All of that despite being 4th in games played in a career (144).

If anything, it tells you just how legendary and impressive the final two seasons were. Kaminsky does own the most points (732) and second-most rebounds (320) in a single season in UW history.

But, let’s not forget the real story here — if it weren’t for hard work and personal growth, Kaminsky, and the Badgers, likely never get where they got to by his final season. That’s the real story and the real reason Kaminsky means so much to the program.

There’s no doubt his No. 44 hanging in the rafters is a just honor for his play on the court and his hard work off of it.

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badger Jon Leur traded to Milwaukee Bucks

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They say you can always go home, and for one former Wisconsin Badger he’s coming back to a state he called home for four years.

Former Badgers forward Jon Leuer was traded early on Thursday morning from the Detroit Pistons to the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange for Leuer, the Bucks gave up the 30th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft and traded away Tony Snell.

Last season, Leuer played in 41 games for the Pistons and made just one start. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his ninth season in the NBA.

Leuer is a very similar player to Snell, but comes at a much more team-friendly salary.

In trading away Snell, the Bucks free up an additional $4 million in salary this year and another $12 million next year.

This could be seen as a way for the Bucks to pony up the big money that Khris Middleton wants from the team in order to stay in Milwaukee.

As for Leuer, he is 17th on the all-time Badgers scoring list with 1,376 points to his name. He also finished his career with 551 rebounds.

Leuer’s final season in Madison was his best statistically, as he helped lead the 2010-11 Badgers team to the Sweet 16. He averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game that year.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers basketball land Davis twins

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After missing out on the Hauser brothers late last month, the Wisconsin Badgers added a different pair of siblings on Saturday night.

Following an offer to the brother of 4-star shooting guard Johnny Davis and an appearance at a team camp this weekend, the Davis brothers announced their pledge to the Badgers according to Badger247.

It took less than a week after head coach Greg Gard gave the O.K. to offer Jordan for the pair to commit to Wisconsin.

Johnny held offers from Marquette, West Virginia, Iowa, Minnesota, DePaul, UNLV and others.

Jordan had offers from UW-Milwaukee and Green Bay, while also becoming a sought after recruit on the football field as well. Once he became serious about wanting to play basketball first, it seemed like a matter of time before Wisconsin offered.

That time came after seeing Jordan play in a camp last weekend.

It also came because it was time to figure out if Johnny was serious about the Badgers or not.

With the July evaluation period coming up, Wisconsin’s coaching staff put the final chips in the middle with this recruitment and it appeared to pay off.

Johnny joins as the No. 141 ranked player in the country and the No. 14 ranked combo guard in the nation according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

The twins will join Detroit, Mich. native Lorne Bowman in the 2020 class.

Wisconsin still has one scholarship available in the class as well, which is likely being held for 5-star and Wisconsin native Jalen Johnson.

After missing out on talented in-state players over and over again, this was a major win for Gard and his coaching staff considering how hard schools like West Virginia and Marquette were after Johnny’s commitment.

As for Jordan, it appears the coaching staff believes he is improving enough to get a scholarship and continue his improvement with this program.

Offers don’t come out just because it may win over a different recruit at Wisconsin. That wasn’t Bo Ryan’s style and it also isn’t Greg Gard’s style.

The trio of players put the Badgers at No. 8 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten in the 2020 class as of today.

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Badgers Basketball

Former Badgers get No. 2 seed in The Basketball Tournament Columbus regional

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Who doesn’t want $2 million? That’s the prize at stake for winning The Basketball Tournament and a group of former Wisconsin Badgers want in.

On Tuesday it was officially announced that the Kohl Blooded team — spearheaded by former Badgers point guard Kam Taylor — will be the No. 2 seed in the Columbus regional.

They will take on No. 7 seed Mid-American Unity, which is making its second appearance in the TBT after a year off. That group represents teams from across the Mid-American conference.

As for the Badgers, the roster will be made up of some very strong names from the past. The headline names include members of the back-to-back Final Four teams in Nigel Hayes and Vitto Brown. Also joining will be Jordan Taylor, Ryan Evans, Trevon Hughes and recent grad Charles Thomas. You can see the full roster here.

The regionals will take place July 19-21 in Columbus with the winner of this regional meeting seven other winners in Chicago for championship week.

All games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks, so you should be able to find them either streaming or on cable television.

Kohl Blooded vs. Mid-American Unity will tip at 1pm ET on Friday, July 19.

The winner will take on the winner of Red Scare (Dayton alumni) and The Region (players from Northwest Indiana) in the regional semi-final the next day.

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Badgers Basketball

Badgers play final card in attempt to land 2020 G Johnny Davis

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A week after losing out on Joey and Sam Hauser, the Wisconsin Badgers basketball program needs some positive momentum on the player acquisition front.

With three scholarships available in the 2020 class and two top in-state players in their sites, the Badgers coaching staff has been about as patient as possible.

On Wednesday, Badger247 reports that UW has offered Jordan Davis, the twin brother of top target Johnny Davis. It’s not a walk-on or grayshirt, but a full scholarship offer.

After two years of waiting for that offer to come, it finally did.

Jordan is an unranked player in basketball at this time, but I expect that to change once the scouting services catch wind of this offer. Johnny Davis is the No. 131 ranked player in the country, a 4-star rated prospect and the No. 3 ranked player in the state of Wisconsin in the 2020 class.

With the brothers set to make a weekend visit for team camp in two weeks, this is a move that undoubtably puts the pressure squarely on Johnny Davis at this point.

Simply put, the Badgers need to know if Davis is going to commit or if they need to move on.

Offering Jordan a full ride is about the only thing left in the Badgers quiver at this point. If getting the dream of playing basketball together at the same school and in-state no less doesn’t tip the scales, at least the Badgers know they can move on.

Is it a desperate move? In some ways one could see it as such. Clearly the Badgers want Johnny in a major way and they see offering Jordan as a critical move that could separate themselves from the competition.

However, this also isn’t a coaching staff willing to just throw away a scholarship in an effort to get a coveted player to play for them. That’s simply not Greg Gard’s style.

Jordan is also a player they see as a contributor, or he wasn’t getting an offer. Plain and simple.

There’s no doubt that this move ups the pressure, like I mentioned before. But, that’s not a bad thing, as UW needs to know where they stand heading in to July’s evaluation period.

If the Davis brothers can’t commit or at least internally give the coaching staff the information that will make them feel comfortable, they need to start getting offers out to other big time players whom they’ve been waiting to offer.

Consider UW is an underdog to land in-state five-star prospect Jalen Johnson, and you have to consider this move a smart one for the long term prospects of the 2020 class.

Will the Davis twins jump at the offer to play together at Wisconsin?

Some in the recruiting world believe this was the situation that was holding Wisconsin back all along. So, don’t be surprised to see this affect the recruitment of both players in a big way.

As for Jordan, his game has also caught the attention of Iowa and Minnesota and he did have scholarship offers from both Green Bay and Milwaukee prior to this one.

What may have really held the Badgers coaching staff and others back was the fact that Jordan is also a good player on the football side and wasn’t sure which sport he wanted to pick.

It seems like UW has gotten the clue that Jordan may be more receptive to a basketball future and pulled the trigger on the offer.

We’ll see how much longer the two stay uncommitted, but don’t be surprised to see something happen following July’s AAU season.

Letting that play out and getting all the offers out there on the table is just a smart move for the twins. From there, it’s up to them and clearly the Badgers have left no stone unturned in this situation.

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