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Talking with MSU Freshmen Forwards Kenny Kaminski And Matt Costello

Michigan State’s two newest forwards, Matt Costello (Auburn, MI) and Kenny Kaminski (Medina, OH), both showed up for the full weekend of the Moneyball Pro-Am. Though I’m packaging them together as post players, seeing them in action made some of the differences clear. While Kaminski has a reputation as a major shooter, that was the first thing to Costello’s mind when I asked him about his goals for development. Watching them play in the same game on Sunday also displayed how they’re built for different roles. Costello has a solid inch or two on Kaminski with a bigger frame fitting of a power forward/center. Kaminski is strong but more compact and still has traces of the high school sophomore recruited as a 3/4 hybrid forward. Costello spent most of his time over the weekend planted by the basket against Payne and Nix while Kaminski popped outside looking for open shots.

I stole a few minutes to talk with each of them about leaving high school, the summer Pro-Am, and their upcoming season at Michigan State. I’ll run my similar conversations with the guards Denzel Valentine and Gary Harris tomorrow.

Transcripts after the jump...

Kenny Kaminski

You were the first commit to the 2012 class almost two years ago now. How’s it feel to finally be up here in East Lansing getting ready for your freshman season?
"It feels awesome. I’ve been here for almost a month. I moved in on June 4th, the day after my graduation actually. I got here as quick as possible. I love it up here, it’s the place to be, I’ve always loved this place. It’s been a lot of work this summer. School just started now so that’s starting to pick up. I’m having a blast."

Off the court, what are some of your favorite parts of being at MSU?
"Just everything really, hanging out with the guys. They’re all great guys. School, obviously, going well. We just started Monday. Been pretty busy with workouts. Had a long conversation with coach and we’re real excited about the season."

You’re known coming in as a great outside shooter but what are other elements of your game that people might not be as familiar with?
"My inside game. I’m really trying to take my game to a new level this year. I don’t want to be just known as just a shooter but I also want to be kind of like what Draymond Green did. He has huge shoes to fill. I don’t think anyone can fill his shoes but he did so well going inside/outside and I admire that. I really want to do that with my game."

What is it like with that big opening at the power forward spot?
"It’s huge. Practice has been real, real competitive. There’s never a day off. We’re all working as hard as we can. It’s going to be real interesting."

You surprised some people by making a quick comeback from injury at the end of your senior season. How does it change your expectations for this year?
"Obviously being injured really sets me back a lot. I gained a lot of weight but I also got a lot of it off. I lost a lot of strength and that’s why I came up here early. I’ve been in the weight room for about three months now seeing huge improvements. The one thing I’ve been pretty surprised about is I got my shot back real quick. I came off surgery and I had a week of shooting. We put together a huge run to get to it every day. I’m real excited, the shoulder feels well, everything’s going 100%."

What is it like working with Matt Costello as the two new forwards on the block?
"It’s awesome. I’ve known Matt forever, for the longest time. I played with him back in AAU ball freshman year. He’s my best friend. We room together and chill out every day. It’s really exciting to know that we’re going to be wearing the Spartan uniform together. "

Matt Costello

You received the baptism by fire at Moneyball, matching-up against Payne yesterday and Nix today. What’s it like playing with those guys?
"It’s fun. You play against them in practice but you don’t have any game situations like this. It’s fun just to play against each other."

Are you thinking about that role at Michigan State as well, playing at the center position or playing power forward?
"I’m just going to do whatever the coaches want me to. Practice whatever they want me to practice and improve on whatever they want to improve on. I just want to play ball."

Do you adjust your game at all for those situations or is it the same thing?
"Yeah, four and five is pretty much the same thing. Four is a little more passing but essentially they’re the same thing."

Talking about in-state hoops, you received a lot of recognition but some people might have been upset that you didn’t get the national recognition you deserved. Does that register with you? Is that motivation?
"No, you just come and play ball. The rankings are going to be what they’re going to be. You have no effect on them. I just play as hard as I can and see what happens."

Right, I’ve never heard anyone call your game soft. You’re known for toughness and intensity. Where does that come from?
"My dad and Low Dawkins, I don’t know if you remember him?"

Sure, Saginaw High coach.
"Yeah, old Saginaw High coach. I learned from him for a couple of years. He taught me to play hard {laughs} and I hope it shows."

And what does that mean to you in your game?
"Giving all your effort on every play. I know there’s sometimes you’re dogging it and you can’t get up on the floor but you have to dig deep and work harder even if you don’t think you can."

Going from high school to summer Pro-Am to MSU freshman season, what are parts of your game you still want to work on?
"Definitely pick-and-pop. My 15-foot jumper is a little inconsistent right now. And also playing against guys my size. I didn’t get that opportunity much in high school, so just practicing, finishing over AP and Nix. It will help me a lot more when I get in-season because they’re two of the best big men in the nation. It’ll make me better when I get to practice against them more."