After sitting out the majority of his last two basketball seasons, Michigan State redshirt freshman Kenny Kaminski is finally ready to go.
As a junior at Medina High School in Ohio, Kaminski averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds, good enough to earn himself Second-team All State honors.
However, the very next year Kaminski suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss almost his entire senior season. His team went 5-15 in his absence but reeled off five straight tournament wins in his return to advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
Upon his arrival at Michigan State his freshman year, having missed out on most of his senior year in high school, Kaminksi was ready to go, only to re-injure his shoulder during the summer, forcing him to have surgery again and redshirt the year.
“At first I was really upset about it,” Kaminski said. “I had my first surgery in order to come back and play my freshman year. When I found out I was having surgery again I was really scorned and I was hurt.”
However, after taking a moment to sit back and look at his situation, Kaminski said he realized sitting out last year was instead a blessing in disguise.
“After about a week into rehab I realized ‘this is a big year for me, I’m not just going to sit there and whine and cry about it. I’m going to use it to get as good as possible,’” Kaminski said. “I think the biggest thing I really took from it was learning how to play the game and learning what big time game experience is like without actually playing.”
Midway through the season, Kaminski returned to practice and even though he was still held out of action during the games, Kaminski likes to make light of the fact that he was still making contributions to the team.
“Once I did come back, practice really picked up for me. I was on the scout team last year so it wasn’t like I was just sitting on the sideline. I feel like I contributed to all our games because they had to guard me (in practice),” Kaminski said, going on to bring up the point that he sometimes emulated guys like Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State in practice.
And now that the red shirt has been taken off and he’s dropped a significant amount of weight to get in shape for the season, the 6-foot-8, 225 pound forward is ready for the season to begin, one which he believes could be a good one.
“We have so many weapons this year,” Kaminski said. “I just feel like with this year’s team, everyone compliments each other so well that I feel like we can make a serious run.”
As for what kind of contribution Kaminski is expected to make on the floor, much has been made of his shooting ability. However, according to Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo, he must improve in other areas of the game before he sees significant playing time.
“(Kaminski) might be as good a pure shooter as we have,” Izzo said. “He must improve defensively. In fact, like my famous guy Morris Peterson, I tried to give him the same road map this summer to find somebody on campus that he could guard. If he can find him, then he’s going to play, because he can shoot the ball. He’s just got to improve defensively.”
While Kaminski continues to improve in that regard, it’s without a doubt that he will likely be a key part in Michigan State’s success this upcoming season.
And as that season inches nearer where the No. 2 MSU Basketball team is set to open up at home against McNeese State on November 8, Kaminski is ready to seize the opportunity to show what he can do.
“I’m really excited,” Kaminski said. “I’ve worked my butt off since the day I was born for this and I’ve always wanted to play Division 1 basketball and now I’m finally here and I just have to grasp the moment.”
Follow Ryan Squanda on Twitter @squandaryan