Everything’s coming up roses for Kenny Kaminski.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the redshirt freshman forward, but in overtime of the No. 5 MSU basketball team’s 72-68 win against No. 3 Ohio State Tuesday night, he hit a shot he won’t soon forget.
Kaminski only played 16 minutes, but was key in the waning moments of the game after hitting a clutch 3-pointer in overtime that gave the Spartans a lead.
“I’ve dreamed of this day,” Kaminski said. “I’m crying looking at my mom and she’s crying. It’s the biggest shot I’ve hit in my life.”
The redshirt freshman was suspended for the exhibition games and first game against McNeese State by head coach Tom Izzo. He didn’t get on the court again until Nov. 18 in the game against Portland, but was again suspended after MSU’s disappointing loss to North Carolina.
Izzo said consistently throughout the first part of the season that Kaminski needed to “grow up” to be more of a contributing member of this team.
“We said last year Kenny’s a hell of a shooter, and when he grew up, (he) was going to be a great player,” Izzo said.
Tuesday night’s clash against the Buckeyes just might be that extra push to boost the talented Ohio native to the next level on the court.
He was recruited for his elite outside shooting, and it’s starting to look like Kaminski’s shot is as golden as it was expected to be.
Many Spartans are hampered by injuries, with seniors Keith Appling and Adreian Payne, junior Travis Trice and sophomore Gary Harris all limited or out for some reason or another.
Izzo said the win was on the tough play of the seniors, the loud fans and young players like Kaminski — especially when Appling found him for the wide-open long ball in overtime.
“There were so many strange plays there in that stretch,” Izzo said. “That was a big turning point in the game. Inside-out passes, he can knock down shots. He’s one of our best shooters. Kenny was a stabilizer.”
Kaminski finished the game with nine points, all from beyond the arc.
Harris said he knew Kaminski had ice in his veins, it was just a matter of getting on the court.
“I knew Kenny had it in him, he is one of a kind,” Harris said. “He can come in not stretched, not doing anything, sit on the bench for ten minutes, then come in and hit a three. That’s just the kind of player he is.”
The suspensions were hard for Kaminski, but he said he’s absolutely grown up in his time away from the team.
“It was one of the hardest things I had to go through,” he said. “(I was) facing people saying, ‘I thought you were supposed to be at Texas.’ Answering that question was not easy for me at all.”
Kaminski came back from the suspensions with a new mindset, one he said helped him focus on what he knew he could do, and do it to the best of his abilities.
One thing is for sure after the win against Ohio State — he had a very simple, yet definite, answer to the question “Who are you now?”
“Kenny Kaminski,” he said, bluntly. “You saw him tonight.”