“I was an unheralded kid coming out of high school. I had to work my way at Wisconsin to to the point where I could get minutes. I needed a few years to get my feet wet,” Kaminsky said to SI.com’s Luke Winn.
Now, Kaminsky and his efficient teammates are six games away from the ultimate prize: the NCAA Championship.
Kaminsky, who is on the national cover of this week’s of Sports Illustrated, is looking for redemption of sort. After the Badgers were sent home by an Aaron Harrison three-pointer in last year’s national semifinals, Kaminsky wrote a 1,200-word essay detailing his love for the game and why he returned for his senior year.
“I am going to be honest, I absolutely love college. Call me Joe College if you please. I sat down and thought about it for a long time, and I kept coming back to the same exact point,” he said in the essay. “I don't think I would be able to live with the regret of skipping my last year of college to be a potential D-League player or end up in Europe.”
And what a senior year it has been. Kaminsky went from averaging 1.1 points a game during his freshman campaign to now tallying more than 18 points per contest.
That unheralded kid is SI’s Player of the Year after leading the Badgers to a 31-3 record, the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles and a No. 1 seed in the West Region. He is the only major conference player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
The Badgers first test to getting back to the Final Four is Friday against Coastal Carolina.
For more on Kaminsky, check out Winn's story in this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
Also in this issue, a preview of the women's NCAA tournament, and profiles on former Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates and San Antonio Spurs point guard Patty Mills.
2015 Sports Illustrated Covers