Wisconsin ended Kentucky’s undefeated season in the Final Four on Saturday behind a double-double from Frank Kaminsky. The senior has been named NetScouts Basketball’s NCAA Tournament Player of the Day for games on April 4th.
Kaminsky led the Badgers with game-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 71-64 victory. He was 7-of-11 from the field and also added two blocks and two assists in 37 minutes. The 7-foot center was key in the rebounding department against a bigger Kentucky lineup while he was also a mismatch offensively.
“We just tried to do whatever we could to stay into them,” Kaminsky said in his postgame press conference. “We know if they get another offensive rebound, they get another chance to score. They’re such a good offensive team, if they get buckets that way, it’s going to be a long night. Just trying to keep them off the glass is one of our main priorities.”
After having a smaller role in his first two collegiate seasons, Kaminsky blossomed into a NBA prospect as a junior, averaging 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. He was seen as a probable first round pick, but returned for his senior year and will likely be a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Kaminsky is averaging 18.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 54.9% from the field and 41.5% from three-point range. As a skilled 7-footer that possesses a legitimate knock-down jumper, Kaminsky gives opponents problems due to his versatility.
The Badgers ended Kentucky’s undefeated run, but they still have to beat Duke on Monday to be crowned national champions. Kaminsky’s upcoming matchup with star freshman Jahlil Okafor will be something NBA scouts will be watching.
“His combination of skill and size is unseen in the college game,” Kaminsky said of Okafor. “We know he can score. We just got to watch film, see what he can take advantage of. See what he likes to do, try to take away from him. If we watch film, we’ll pick up some things we’ll be able to do.”
Duke defeated Wisconsin 80-70 back in December, but Wisconsin will look to avenge the loss. Kaminsky had 17 points and nine rebounds the first time around, but will try to play even better on Monday. Okafor has struggled with mobile bigs this season while Kaminsky has faced questions about his post defense, so it will make for a must-watch matchup.
Other Saturday Notes:
-Kaminsky and Okafor will be an intriguing matchup to watch, but a potential duel between Sam Dekker and Justise Winslow might actually have the most intrigue. Dekker has improved his NBA Draft stock more than any other player in the tournament after averaging 20.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in the five games thus far. He’s shooting an outstanding 61.3% (38-of-62) from the field and 50% (15-of-30) from three-point range. Winslow led the Blue Devils with 19 points and nine rebounds against Michigan State and has been projected as a top ten pick throughout the entire season. In a talented class for wings, Dekker and Winslow will give NBA scouts a better of idea of where the two stand.
-While Karl-Anthony Towns won’t face Okafor in the championship like most had hoped for, he’s done all he can to push for the number one pick. The 6-foot-11 center had 16 points and nine rebounds in a loss to Wisconsin while shooting 7-of-11 from the floor. He’s a better shooter than Okafor, although Okafor is a more polished low post threat. The team with the number one pick will have a tough time choosing between the two.
-Michigan State junior Denzel Valentine was unable to lead the Spartans to a win, but was extremely impressive nonetheless. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. He’ll be a talented returning piece for Michigan State. Senior guard Travis Trice added 16 points and five assists in his final collegiate outing.
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