By: Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio -- A little less than four years ago, Mike Kaminski was finishing his scholastic basketball career at Medina High School and researching schools where he's like to continue both his academic and athletic career. While Baldwin Wallace University was in the mix, it came down to the coach, the comfortability and wanting to create his own path.
Kaminski comes from an extremely talented family of basketball players. His father, Kenn Kaminski '91, and mother, Kim (Stuart) Kaminski '90, are two of the best to ever play at BW. Both are Hall of Famers and members of the 1,000-Point Club. His older brother, Kenny, began his collegiate career at NCAA Division I Michigan State University, finished as an All-Mid-American Conference player at Ohio University and now plays professionally in Europe. Even his younger brother, Tyler, is a senior and a fine player at Medina High and is currently researching his next stop.
So, when then BW Head Coach Duane Sheldon '93 and current Head Coach Tom Heil (then Sheldon's top assistant) were recruiting him, he was interested in being a Yellow Jacket, but more interested in setting his path toward success.
Heil Returns to the Forefront
Sheldon and Heil ended a successful 2014-2015 season at BW with an 18-9 record when the Jackets lost in the semifinals of the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament. The success of four straight winning seasons and a 67-38 record helped Heil land his first head coaching gig at Defiance College.
In his first recruiting class at Defiance, Heil welcome Kaminski with open arms, and it has been that solid relationship that brought both back to Berea.
Heil Returns First, Then Kaminski
In the late winter of 2015, Sheldon announced that he was leaving the collegiate coaching ranks to take a high school director of athletics position in Columbus. BW ultimately chose Heil after a national search.
In the one season he was gone, Heil He led the Defiance Yellow Jackets to a 22-7 record, including a 15-0 mark at home. It captured both the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and HCAC Tournament titles. Heil then guided his team into the NCAA Division III National Tournament where it posted the school's first-ever NCAA Division III National Tournament victory by knocking off the defending national champions.
Meanwhile, Kaminski played in all 29 contests and came off the bench to averaged 3.9 points and 2.6 rebounds-per-game. He had his best game there in the second round of the NCAA tourney when he scored 11 points in a loss to St. Olaf (Minn.) College.
But for Kaminski, one of his main reasons for going to Defiance was Heil. So, when Heil announced he was leaving Defiance and returning to Berea and BW, he ultimately decided to join him here. It is a match made in heaven for both Heil and Kaminski.
Kaminski Thriving at BW with Mom and Dad in the Stands
Since coming to Berea and BW, Kaminski is thriving both in the classroom and on the basketball court. The senior starter at small forward is scoring 5.0 ppg. and grabbing 2.8 rpg. for the 4-2 overall and 1-1 OAC BW Yellow Jackets. Although his scoring has started slowly this season, both Heil and Kaminski know it will pick up to equal his first two solid seasons in the Brown & Gold.
As a sophomore two years ago, Kaminski played his first season of basketball at BW and earned his first varsity letter. He started at small forward, played in and started all 27 games and averaged 7.0 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. with 48 three-pointers, 10 assists, 10 blocked shots and seven steals. Kaminski had a career-high 18 points, including five treys, versus Ohio Northern in Berea on February 14, 2016. He also had a career-high 11 rebounds at Heidelberg University on January 13. BW finished 16-11 overall.
Last season, as a junior, Kaminski played his second season at BW and earned a second etter. He appeared in 23 of 28 games, including 16 starts, and missed five games due to an injury that also limited him in other contests. Kaminski averaged a career-high 9.3 ppg. and 3.0 rpg. with a career-high 53 three-pointers and a career-high 11 assists. He also had eight blocked shots and five steals. Kaminski had a season-high 17 points on two separate occasions. BW finished 15-13 overall and advanced to the 2017 OAC Championship Game.
A Happy Mom and Dad and Son
Both Kim and Kenn Kaminski are glad to have their son back home and playing at their alma mater. It definitely makes it easier when the youngest son is also playing 20 minutes down the road or in Greater Cleveland. You could see the enthusiasm first hand on December 2 when teammate Michael Quiring (Brunswick) hit a game-winning three-pointer to give BW a 73-72 win at defending OAC champ and No.6-ranked Marietta College.
While all of the Yellow Jacket players and fans, who made the nearly three-hour trip south, were running out onto the court to celebrate, the three Kaminski's had one big, giant family hung and smile. And, Kim Kaminski said, "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about!".