Sean Merriman, web editor, March 16, 2015

CHICAGO — Frank Kaminsky pumped his fist, let out a smile and ran to catch the celebratory confetti falling down from the United Center ceiling with his teammates.

Wisconsin is your 2015 Big Ten champion, and it is led by a 7-foot center from Lisle, Illinois, who is not your typical college basketball superstar.

Kaminsky is a senior, and the best player on the basketball court whenever he takes the floor. Those two things don't go hand-in-hand in this day and age.


Yet here is Kaminsky, recently selected as the 2015 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player and the favorite to win College Basketball National Player of the Year. He's not a fantastic freshman, or a super sophomore, or even a jumpin'-out-the-gym junior. He is a 21-year-old senior, playing for a team going after its second consecutive Final Four appearance.

The Badgers' star big man is well aware of the expectations surrounding him and his team heading into the NCAA Tournament, but he doesn't let that get to him. He likes to keep things light-hearted, whether that means playing Nintendo with his teammates, or having ping pong tournaments after practice.

That says a lot about this team. But it also says a lot about Kaminsky as a person. It says he understands what it means to be a senior leader, and that he knows what's good for his team. It says he has a full understanding of his situation. He knows what college sports is all about, and how to cherish the memories he has made during his four years at Wisconsin.

Most college superstars nowadays fail to cherish those memories. Their college experience is summed up in less than a year's time. In fact, many of the other superstars in this year's NCAA Tournament will be on an NBA roster at this time next season.

Kaminsky made the choice to come back for his senior year, despite likely being an NBA first-round draft selection. A 7-foot big man who can run the floor, shoot the three, and bang down low, that sounds like an NBA team's dream player. But Kaminsky returned to school in order to capture some more memories, just like the one he captured on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

"Just to win the Big Ten championship in the United Center, and the way we won the game, it's just unbelievable," said Kaminsky, who sported a go-pro camera on his chest in order to take in all the memories on this special championship Sunday. "It's just one of the more joyous moments in my life."

Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Andrew Wiggins are three of the top young players in the NBA. All three would also be in college, had they stayed four years.

They all missed out on the experience Kaminsky had on Sunday. Four years of hard work in college, paying off in the form of a conference championship.

Wisconsin is a team filled with experience and guys who have been on this stage before. That's why it's tough not to root for Kaminsky and the Badgers, regardless of where your college allegiances lie.

"Everyone on this team is close, that's what makes us so successful," Kaminsky said. "When you have all those things going on, we're tough to beat."

Playing for championships with your closest group of friends? Come on… If you're a college athlete, how do you top that?

If more college basketball players took the same route as Kaminsky – stay four years, improve your draft stock, mature on and off the court, and simply live the college life, then maybe more college basketball players would get to enjoy the complete college experience.

We know Kaminsky is. And another chance to cut down the nets in Indianapolis, home of the Final Four, would only add to what has been a truly memorable college basketball career.