DE PERE — Making your way to play at the Division One level after high school is always a tough task.
For De Pere high school basketball player Johnny Kinziger, it’s a big weight off of his shoulders to commit to Illinois State and just focus on helping the Redbirds go as far as they can in his senior year.
“Now that that’s kind of off my back, I feel like I can fully commit to trying to win a state title and I feel like we’re going to bring the guys even closer this year and we have a good shot,” Kinziger said. “I just want to go lay it out on the floor.”
Kinziger picked up offers this summer from Illinois State and UWGB. It was tempting to wait a little longer to see what other offers might come in, but Illinois State felt like home.
“I took a deep consideration in waiting a little bit, but then I thought about it and I realized that Illinois State was what I was looking for,” he said. “I wasn't going to wait out for anything because this is what I wanted, so I committed right away. Illinois State, to me, was just a great overall experience when I went to visit. The coaching staff is phenomenal there. Their facilities, their campus life, their community is brought together, I saw them as a place I'd love to play.”
It's hard not to take notice of Kinziger when he has the ball in his hands. As a junior he averaged 21 points, four rebounds and about for assists per game. He’s been a significant contributor with Redbirds program since he was a freshman. Illinois State plans to utilize him in the same role as De Pere:
“They saw me as kind of the floor general, the point guard of the team – pick guys up when things go bad and that type of stuff,” Kinziger said. “Kind of being there for everybody and being the glue of the team.”
The star guard is the first commit in the 2023 class for new Illinois State head coach Ryan Pedon who was an assistant at Ohio State previously. They would like Kinziger to continue to grow his game over the next year, especially his leadership.
“A lot of times you want the players to run the game and the coaches just be there for guidance, so that’s a big part they want me to work on and defensively they just want me to get stronger and faster,” said Kinziger.
But for now Kinziger is going to enjoy this moment after the hard work he put in to get here.
“I've always dreamt of becoming a Division One player, I didn’t know if it was possible, but then i realized you know what, if I really put some hard work into this and get after it, anything is possible, so this means so much to me. It’s a dream come true,” he said.