MADISON — He will be remembered for his skills on the court and also, for his large personality during his time as a Wisconsin Badgers player. “Frank the Tank” became a household name in college hoops and this weekend in Madison, he said “thank you.”
“You’re gonna see my name and my number up there, but there’s so much more behind it that, I guess you had to be there for that time,” Frank Kaminsky said.
It was a weekend dedicated to #44. The Wisconsin Badgers honored Kaminsky for his many accolades during his collegiate career in Madison.
“Going to the Final Four twice — that’s my favorite on-court memory, but I’ve said it before, most of my fondest memories of this place were off the court, just hanging out with the people,” Kaminsky said.
“It was incredible to be a part of two of those teams. Big part of it. We’re proud of that. Obviously we wish we would’ve won one, but you can always look back with a smile on your face and remember the good times that we had and what we did. Three Final Fours in 15 years — not many schools can say so,” Sam Dekker, former Wisconsin Badgers player and Kaminsky’s teammate said.
Kaminsky’s development from a freshman to a National Player of the Year was no doubt impressive, but he’s quick to credit those around him for helping him make it possible.
“Obviously I won the awards, I won the individual awards, but that was never what I was after. I guess I don’t truly understand why all the good things happened to me because we had such a good team. There were so many good pieces that allowed me to be the person and the player that I was,” Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky’s college basketball chapter is now closed, but his playing continues at the professional level — averaging 10.5 points per game this season for the Charlotte Hornets, but the friendships made in Madison are still a major part of his life.
“In the NBA now, I get kinda bored, because I go home and I have this personal life, but in college, my life was all the different friends — people, people I lived with. There were so many different elements that made my time here special, so it’s tough to come back here and not think about all that time and feel sad or sentimental or wish I had more time here, but I can honestly say I have no regrets about my time here,” Kaminsky said.
Kaminsky isn’t alone in his NBA adventure — with former teammate turned opponent Dekker along for the ride.
“We talk all the time. We know the grind. We know the ups and downs and the struggles that we both face. We can relate to each other. We have each other’s backs and that’s been since day one here on campus — so we have a special connection that no one can take away from us and I don’t think that’s ever gonna change,” Dekker said.
Even though Kaminsky and others from that entertaining and talented Final Four team are removed from Badgers hoops, Kaminsky views this down season for Wisconsin as a learning experience.
“You know, having to play so many young guys right away is obviously difficult. I know if I was a freshman or sophomore and had to come in here and play 25-30 minutes a game, it might not have gone so well for our team. It takes time to develop. That’s what this school has been about. Developing players. Developing talent and finding people that fit a certain system. There’s so many different names that have been more than worthy to have their name and jersey number up there. I just question why I’m the first one. I guess I just was lucky enough to be in the right situation and here at the right time,” Kaminsky said.