As a guy who follows European ball extensively and not NCAA ball or the NBA much, it was no surprise that I had never heard of Cameron Krutwig (206-C-98, college: Loyola, IL). Obviously when NCAA rookies move on to Europe, I begin to learn and find out more who these players are depending on if I interview them or do research about clubs. When I first saw a picture of the American, I would never have thought he was a basketball player. Without knowing his height, he looked more like a college team manager or a teaching assistant. But with closer inspection, this guy is the real deal on the court and off the court also has his special abilities. There was especially one hobby of his impersonations that made waves especially when he was at Loyola University of Chicago (NCAA). But it is on the court where this guy really sparkles with his many skills. This guy is as much of a modern day big man as is Nikola Jokic a guy he continues to be compared to. Okay so he shot only 7 three’s in his four year career in the NCAA, but he does everything else on the court in order to be the most versatile player possible so he can be able to help his team in as many ways as possible to get the dub. He has such a beautiful compact game as he can score in so many ways around the basket if it means making a Kevin Mchale like turn around shot, unleashing a bold floater over a bigger defender, playing the pick and roll to perfection and my favorite zipping passes by opponents as if he were the Larry Bird from Chicago. In the NCAA, he was off the radar of NBA teams, but then again there have been enough guys reach the NBA via Europe. Off the court, he is a genuine nice guy that likes to entertain. He can surprise you with off-key Christmas Caroling and my favorite whipping out some funny Will Ferrell impersonations. Cameron and I are even connected a bit in our link to the Hollywood superstar. He does impersonations of the classic ex Saturday Night Live actor and Ferrell’s wife Viveca was one of my first childhood friends. It will be interesting to see how often he can use the Ferrell impersonations and if his all-around versatile game will one day give him a ticket to the NBA? ‘I always have Impressions ready to go. I Haven’t used them much in Belgium because most of the guys on the team haven’t seen all the movies. There’s nothing worse than quoting a movie that no one has seen. I have told some of my teammates that they have to watch some of his classic movies. There’s definitely a path to the NBA from Europe, the Giants have had some guys make it to the NBA. It’s all a process and I am in my first year of that process. The next step for me is to continue my development as a shooter. Honestly this year I haven’t taken many shots outside of the paint because that’s not what is asked of me in our scheme. I think as time goes on and I get more confidence to shoot the ball you will see me shooting it more and more. It’s something I have to work at’, warned Cameron Krutwig.
Cameron Krutwig who lists Lucas Willimson, Tate Hall, Ben Richardson, WIll Alcock, and Clayton Custer as his five best teammates of all-time was born on December 21st, 1988 in Algonquin, Illinois. He attended Jacobs High School in his home town and as a junior averaged 17,7ppg, 12,7rpg, 2,5spg and 2,6bpg. He helped lead his team to the Fox Valley Conference title. As a senior, he led the team to a 30-2 record and a sectional championship. In the sectional final, he almost posted a quadruple double with 20 points, 24 rebounds, 12 blocks and nine assists. He had 20 schloarships and chose to attend Loyola University Chicago. He showed already in his freshman season that he could be an important part of the team success as he averaged 10.4ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 59.8%, FT: 73.5%. He scored in double figures in 18 games and had a fantastic 21/13 game in a 81-65 victory over Bradley. His freshman year saw him win his first MVC title and also where he helped the school make the incredible Cinderella run at March Madness beating Miami, Tennessee, Nevada and Kansas State before bowing out to Michigan. The three first wins couldn’t have been more exciting as Loyola won by a combined point total of only 4 points. ‘I think the first win over Miami was a huge win for us, I know it came on a last second shot but if you watch the whole game we were in it the whole way. it was my first experience in March and that shot by Donte will always be one of the best shots in Rambler history’, stated Cameron Krutwig. Even if Michigan halted their March Madness run, being able to play against such a talented Michigan squad had a massive impact on him. ‘That Michigan team was loaded, they had Duncan Robinson, Moritz Wagner, Charles Matthew, and Jordan Poole. Thats 4 NBA guys right there, we hung with them the whole game but just lost it in the last 10 minutes. That game will always hold a special place in my basketball career. The final four was a life changing experience and really showed me a side to basketball that I had never seen before. It made me hungry to get back there and to work even harder to continue the success of Loyola as a program’, remembered Cameron Krutwig. In his second season, he was able to make another jump averaging 14.8ppg, 7.2rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 63.2%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 57.8%. He scored in double figures in 30 games including 24 points in a loss against Missouri State and 22 points apiece in wins over Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa. In his junior season he averaged 15.1ppg, 8.1rpg, 4.2apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 57.1%, FT: 69.0%. He scored in double figures in 26 games and had a rare triple double in the 77-70 victory over Vanderbilt where he posted 22/10/10 stats.’ I did know that I was close and the guys from the bench were telling me that I needed just one more rebound to get it. It was the last rebound of the game as the time was expiring. That was a great win for us as a team and it was fun to play in an NBA arena out in Phoenix. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one’, expressed Cameron Krutwig. He also contributed 24 points in a win over St Joseph’s and 23 points in a victory over Missouri State.
In his senior year he averaged 15.0ppg, 7.0rpg, 3.0apg, 1.1spg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 57.4%, FT: 68.4%. He scored in double figures in 26 games. He helped the school win another MVC title over Drake where he hit for 20 points and was named MVP. He also led the school to the NCAA Sweet 16 losing to Oregon State as he finished his NCAA career with 14 points and 10 boards. In his senior season he became just the fourth player in MVC history to collect 1,500 points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists joining other NBA legends like Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and Hersey Hawkins. ‘I honestly had no idea about that until after the game had happened. It’s a great group to be a part of and I have a ton of respect for the three guys on that list. I think it is pretty special that I am the only center on that list and it just shows how good of a passer I was in my time at Loyola. I’m thankful for all my teammates that I played with in college without them it wouldn’t have happened’, added Cameron Krutwig who remembers battling teammate Carson Shanks in one on one’s and having his number at the end winning the matches. In his last three years in the NCAA he scored in double figures in 82 of 96 games and was all MVC first team selection three times. He also achieved All-MVC Player of the Year -21, All-MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Year -21, MVC All-Academic 1st Team -21, MVC All-Tournament Team -21 and USBWA All-District V Team -21. All the success that he had at Loyola wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance of head coach Porter Moser. ‘Coach Moser’s system really taught me a lot about spacing and defense as well as knowing what it takes to be great. Some of the practices we used to have were not easy but it made us better as a team and gave us a winning mindset. On offense he would always talk about spacing and where to be when certain things happen. Defensively we were always super prepared and locked in on what our Job was. This has helped me when it comes to pro ball because there is nothing I haven’t seen before’, stressed Cameron Krutwig. He topped off his senior year having some very good games scoring 22 points a piece in wins over Chicago State, UIC and Illinois State.
The big man who remembers ex Tennessee guard and current Boston Celtic Grant Williams as being the toughest and strongest player has had ever had to guard is a 206cm center that gets compared a lot to Denver Nugget big man Nikola Jokic and watches film on Bam Adebayo. But when you get compared as much to Jokic like he does and you can see videos at You Tube explaining the similarities then it is apparent that he also watches a lot of film of him. ‘I think in terms of body type and passing/reading the game we are similar. As far as shooting/ shot making, he blows me out of the water, like I’ve said it is something I need to work on if I want to take my game to the next level. Jokic is a great player and when I can, I will watch him and study how he sees the game and the passing angles. I think I have yet to show my ability to put the ball on the floor and take people one on one from the elbow, That goes along with being more aggressive, sometimes I get too passive in my playstyle and am always looking for the next pass when I should just go and make a move’, stressed Cameron Krutwig. Probably his biggest asset is his passing game. In the NBA you have had guys like Jokic and Marc Gasol take passing to a new level while in Europe a Johannes Voigtmann of CSKA Moscow is never shy to make the extra spectacular pass . It will be interesting to see in what direction Krutwig’s development as a passer will go as he is already so good at it. ‘Passing has always been my thing since I started playing basketball. It has developed over the years and has really helped me become a well rounded player. I think there is still more to show with my passing here in Europe which will come over time and my teammates getting used to playing with me. Sometimes as a passer it is not about the actual pass but about where the help is coming from or the angles that the defenders are playing their man. I love to throw backdoor passes or passes that go right by people’s ears when they’re not looking. Passing is as much ability as it is smarts, using your eyes is a huge part of being a great passer. Looking help defenders off or finding an open teammate behind the defense is just as important as throwing a great skip pass out of the post’, said Cameron Krutwig.
It is no surprise that his Goat is Michael Jordan and he has many other strengths on offense besides scoring and rebounding. He can score in many different ways and using that floater is a vital part of his repertoire which isn’t self-evident for a big man, but one he knows exactly how to use to his advantage. ‘The floater is a great weapon for a guy like me, I am a little undersized and not necessarily the most athletic guy on the floor, the little push-shot/ floater is a great way to catch people off guard and get up a shot quickly. The game is moving towards the short roll a ton and the floater is a great weapon for me to have in that area so that the defense has to come all the way over to help instead of right under the basket. I have really worked on my floater and turned it into a very good shot for myself. In the off-season I try to get up at least 50-100 floaters a day. It’s a shot that requires a little bit of touch and arc so I know that I have the tools that help with shooting as well’, said Cameron Krutwig. Another part of his game that seems off the radar is his defensive capabilities You wouldn’t necessarily be intimidated by him when you face him in the paint, but he knows exactly how he can shine with his defense. ‘Defensively I think I am more savvy and quicker than people give me credit for. I pride myself on having quick hands and being able to slide with guards. I’m not saying that every time I’m going to stop the other guard but at least make it tough for him to turn the corner or make a pocket pass. I’m not going to be this big shot blocker but I can be a rim protector, making the right defensive slides and always being there to help on the backside if somehow someone’s slips by our defense. One thing I can work on is being able to guard guys who like to put it on the floor and shoot, Pick and pop guys are tough to guard but that is the way the game is moving so I always need to keep improving in that aspect’, warned Cameron Krutwig. He is always seeking ways to better himself and watching film of other big men is always key. Nikola Vucevic’s game is one where he is trying to incorporate parts of into his. ‘I think Vucevic’s game is great. I really love his turn around game and I think I can adapt that into my game. The way he shoots his turn around is almost unblockable, he uses his body so well to create space in order to get that shot off. this year I think he is showing his maturity because the Bulls have some really good guard play and sometimes his scoring takes a back seat but you never see him complain or anything, I think it speaks to what he is like as a teammate’, expressed Cameron Krutwig.
So let’s fast forward to December 2021 as the Algonquin native who names MJ Lebron, Steph and Kobe on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore is playing his rookie season overseas with Belgium club Telenet Giants Antwerpen. Basketball life hasn’t been easy for anyone in the last 21 months as COVID has affected every player in some way or another in the world and it wasn’t any different for the ex Loyola player. ‘Covid has been tough, I finally think we as a civilization are starting to get over it, although there are still challenges. When it first hit 2 years ago, We had to leave college and go home. Those times were tough for sure because nothing was open, we couldn’t see family and friends. Now the restrictions are a little more relaxed and we have adjusted to the times. I think the toughest part of being an athlete during those times was that no gyms were open. There was a good stretch of time where I couldn’t get into the gym and play basketball. That was tough on my body, but once we got back up to school I started to round back into Shape for the 2021 season’, remembered Cameron Krutwig. Not only on court activities have been a challenge, but also every day life. ‘Covid has definitely made me stronger as a man, It taught me to always live in the present because you never know when something will be taken away from you. I think it has strengthened my friendships and my relationships with my family due to us always being around each other when the lockdowns hit. It’s taught me that checking in on people and talking with people you haven’t seen in a while matters because you never know what others are going through. Overal it has made me value relationships more’, stressed Cameron Krutwig. He finally is a professional player and there is one big difference to school that allows him to be totally concentrated on basketball. ‘I think for my first year this is a great situation, I love the guys on the team and the Club has been very professional from day 1. One thing that I enjoy is not having to go to class anymore. In college I was always focusing on school and basketball but now since being a pro I can focus more on basketball and always on other things I like to do in my free time. I’ve found a better balance while being a pro’, said Cameron Krutwig. He has been very fortunate being able to play in two competitions with the BNXT league and Fiba Europe Cup where he can gain more experience as a rookie. ‘ As far as the different competitions, I don’t feel like I have to adjust differently to either of the competitions, I feel like I have to play the same game no matter who or where were playing. It is nice to play another game during the week in Europe, we get to travel and see cities and towns that I would not see if we didn’t play in the Fiba Europe Cup so that is a nice bonus. there is more scouting in the league games because teams have the whole week to prepare for an opponent, so sometimes a Belgian team will take away more of our options because they have scouted us more’, said Cameron Krutwig.
Obviously the game is different overseas and on a whole has more talented and experienced players on the team then what you see in the NCAA, but so far he really has been holding his own and playing a solid rookie season. In the BNXT league he is averaging 8,1ppg, 5,3rpg and 1,6apg while in the Fiba Europe Cup is averaging 10,7ppg, 6,6rpg and 2,0apg. Not bad for a player who still is getting his feet wet in European ball. One guy who has helped him is ex University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee American veteran Matt Tiby who is playing his sixth professional season. ‘Matt has been great, He’s really a great guy and a Hard worker. There’s some things I can take away from his habits on and off the court as well as his preparation for practice/ games. He’s always there if anyone needs him. It’s also great to get his perspective on the basketball scene in Europe because he has played all over in his career’, commented Cameron Krutwig. It will be interesting to see how much more his game will grow as a rookie as he has been doing some very good things, but also knows where he needs to work hard on to keep climbing the basketball ladder in the future. ‘I think the number one difference from college to Europe is the physicality of the game. Everything is a little faster and there is a lot of Pick and Roll. In college I was used as more of a facilitator for the high post and we ran a lot of cutting actions. Here in Europe I’m more of a ball screener/ roller and post up guy. I think as a first year player I have to go out and prove that an offense can run through me and that I can make decisions, I think I have done that but I also recognize that we have other guys on the team that can playmake as well so a lot of the play making hasn’t fallen on me like it did in college. Overall I like my role on the Giants and I know my coaches want me to be even more aggressive to score. They say I look to pass too much so that’s something I can work on’, warned Cameron Krutwig. One thing is for sure, he will surely always find a new friend overseas with his entertaining Will Ferrill impersonations. Heck I would be willing to take a day trip to Antwerpen or to Crailsheim to get a dose. This guy is totally up my alley. He loves the music group Chicago and his favorite movie filmed in Chicago is the classic Harrison Ford flick The Fugitive a movie that I love and always try to catch when it’s on TV. Not too mention his special abilities on the court, this dude is definitely a guy to check out. It never gets boring with Cameron Krutwig as he can unleash a bold floater or Zip a Pass by your ears or do a Will Ferrell impersonation . Who knows maybe he will land in Germany next season. Then I definitely won’t have too far to go to catch his modern day basketball.