It is tough for any unknown to become a legitimate NBA prospect over the course of a few weeks, but Frank Kaminsky has a good chance of accomplishing this feat.
The Wisconsin center played very little in his first two seasons at school, averaging just 7.7 and then 10.3 minutes per game. However, he got the opportunity as a junior and took advantage of it with a team-leading 13.6 points per game during the regular season.
Despite all of this, it still was not enough for most NBA scouts to take notice. The Badgers' slow-paced attack prevented anyone from posting eye-popping numbers, and professional teams were not going to check in to watch a non-prospect on a hunch.
Will Frank Kaminsky be a first-round pick?
That is at least until Kaminsky turned himself into a true star during the NCAA tournament. While he did not need to do much in the opening game against No. 15 American, the center exploded in the next three games to help lead Wisconsin to the Final Four.
Against Oregon, Baylor and Arizona, Kaminsky averaged 22 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. His most impressive performance came in the regional finals, totaling 28 points and 11 rebounds.
Of course, it is not just the box score that has people impressed. In the highlight reel, you can see the big man making shots from behind the arc, on put-back attempts and with his back to the basket:
Opposing coach Sean Miller was fully aware of the impact the center made in the game.
"Frank Kaminsky is the reason Wisconsin's in the Final Four," Miller said, via Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin. "Kaminsky made some great plays. He's a difficult match-up. Got to be one of the best offensive players who plays college basketball for sure.
This wide skill set is starting to get the attention of NBA teams looking toward the draft. Kaminsky dominated two highly touted players in Aaron Gordon and Kaleb Tarczewski and was extremely impressive in the process.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express notes that the player has become a legitimate prospect:
Kaminsky has definitely put himself in the conversation with the season he's had. Barely played his first 2 years, now a legit NBA prospect.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 30, 2014
The good news for Wisconsin fans is that he is not thinking about leaving just yet, via Zack Miller of BadgerBlitz.com:
For the 1st time all year, at least that I recall, Frank Kaminsky was asked about NBA Draft talk. “I’m not paying attention to any of that."— Zack Miller (@miller_zack) April 4, 2014
Despite this, there is no denying that he is climbing draft boards. According to Draft Express, he is the No. 4 junior and the No. 45 best player available. The website does not list him in the 2014 mock draft but has him as a first-round pick in 2015.
If he continues to play well, he could become a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
The problem is things get even tougher in the Final Four against Kentucky. While center Willie Cauley-Stein missed the past couple of games with an injury, the Wildcats have a lot of talent in the frontcourt without him. Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and even Marcus Lee could end up in the NBA before long, and their elite athleticism could make things difficult for Kaminsky.
A strong performance on the national stage against this frontcourt—whether Wisconsin wins or loses—could help increase his profile.
The truth is that the center has every offensive tool scouts look for in a big man. His size and technique in the low post allow him to score inside, and he has the touch to make both mid-range jump shots and three-pointers.
Although his defense requires a little work, Kaminsky can prove that he is ready to compete at the next level with a strong showing in the national semifinal.
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