In an era when many of basketball’s top prospects are “one-and-done,” Frank Kaminsky stands out. He was only a three-star recruit coming out of Benet Academy in Illinois and despite playing a limited role in his first two years with Wisconsin, he metamorphosed into one of the nation’s top players. Through his first two seasons as a Badger, he averaged less than nine minutes per game. Kaminsky has often said he was a bit immature in his early years in college, and often operated without a clear vision, as Ben Hamilton of SI.com outlined in a piece earlier this year. Once he figured it out, the guy known as Frank the Tank emerged as one of college basketball’s most unlikely stars. With more playing time, the 7-footer’s game improved and later evolved.
Kaminsky took a big step forward in his junior season. He averaged 13.9 points per game and grabbed 6.3 rebounds per game. He also led the Badgers to the NCAA Final Four to cap his breakout. Kaminsky entertained the idea of entering last season’s draft, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) relays, but the big man admits that he wasn’t quite ready for the NBA at that point. “I knew I needed to get better. I wanted to go back to school, finish my degree and do more research by watching NBA basketball so I could see what I needed to get better at,” Kaminsky said. “It was like a free year to study for your final exam.“
It turned out to be a great decision to wait another year. He entered his senior season as the 2015 preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and preseason AP All-American. He somehow managed to surpass expectations with an unworldly campaign. In other words, Kaminsky did everything for Wisconsin this past season — and then was rewarded for it. He led the Badgers in points per game (18.8), rebounds per game (8.2), assists (103), blocks (57), field goal percentage (55%), 3-point field goal percentage (.416), free throws (156) and free throw attempts (200). He was the only NCAA Division I player to average at least 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and 1.5 blocks per game. He propelled Wisconsin to its first national championship game since 1941. For his efforts, he was named National Player of the Year by The Associated Press and captured a handful of other honors.
There’s a strong possibility that the next reward for Kaminsky is at least a top-15 selection in the draft. One NBA GM told The Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel that Kaminsky could go as high as sixth in the draft. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress ranks Kaminsky No. 10, but he is the No. 14 overall player according to Ford (Insider subscription required).
Kaminsky has superb size with a frame that has filled out well over time and would improve more with added weight. Kaminsky will never be confused with an explosive athlete, but he is a very coordinated big man who runs the floor well. What makes Kaminsky a unique prospect, according to Givony in his profile of the player, is his versatility and offensive efficiency. Simply put, he’s a matchup problem for many because of his size and how good he is at shooting. While he played mostly center in college, Kaminsky sees himself as a stretch four in the NBA, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders writes. “[I’m] turning myself into a four,” Kaminsky told Pincus. “In college, I played the five for so long. I know I can play the four. I just have to pick up the nuances. The NBA values big guys that can stretch the floor.”
Kaminsky added that he is confident he can transition successfully to power forward. “I played against four in college, because that’s who was guarding me. I know what I’m able to do,” he said. “The college game is obviously different than the NBA game. It also makes it easier that the shot clock is 11 seconds shorter. There’s not as much running around.”
Kaminsky has interviewed with the Pistons and met with the Bucks last week. He met with the Magic and Knicks, respectively, the week prior. A “sure thing” is impossible to find in any draft, and Kaminsky is no different. While he’s a very polished and mature player, because of his age (22) there is some belief he has already maximized his potential. Kaminsky, however, has said that he is looking forward to continuing to grow as a player with any team that selects him. There are no shortage of teams that seem like good fits for him, either. Miami, which owns the 10th pick, is looking for immediate help and Kaminsky’s maturity would present an intriguing addition. If he’s still on the board at No. 12, it would be logical for the Jazz to scoop him up because of their need for someone who can stretch the floor. The best fit, however, is likely the Suns, who will pick 13th. The Suns do not have a quality big man and their options are limited beyond Alex Len.