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Kevin Kotzur begins pro basketball career

Kevin Kotzur begins pro basketball career
Kevin Kotzur looks back toward the bench during an NBA D-League game between his Santa Cruz Warriors and the Austin Toros.

By now, most people in the area have at least heard of La Vernia native Kevin Kotzur. After a great high school basketball career for the Bears, Kevin made a short move to San Antonio where he attended St. Mary’s University. And it was at St. Mary’s that he proceeded to rewrite the record books.

Kevin ended his collegiate career as one of the best-ever players to don a Rattler uniform. The accolades are many, but the highlights include things such as becoming the first player in school history to reach All-American status. Kevin finished as the only St. Mary’s player ever to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in their career. He finished third all-time in career points with 2,004, is first in field goal percentage at .662 (854-1,290), holds the record for blocked shots at 112, and has more rebounds than any other Rattler in history at 1,039. He is also the Heartland Conference’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

So what does a guy with those stats do after graduation? He plays professional basketball, right? Well, not always.

Coming out of Division II St. Mary’s University, Kevin was not considered to be an NBA prospect ahead of last year’s draft. He thought about his options, and appeared to be on track for a professional career overseas. He could hone his craft further and make some money in the process, and a deal was all but complete with a team from Germany. Unfortunately, that deal fell through, and Kevin’s options were dwindling with time.

His agent had another idea, though, and encouraged him to head for California.

Taking a giant leap of faith, Kevin traveled to Oakland, Calif., slept on the floor of a friend’s hotel room to save money, and then did his very best to impress the coaching staff of the Santa Cruz Warriors a developmental team for the Golden State Warriors of the NBA. Kevin wasn’t sure he had done enough to win one of only 12 spots on the roster, but he had, and he did.

Against the odds, Kevin paid his own fare halfway across the country to an open tryout for a professional basketball team and made the roster. He was impressive at the tryout, but Santa Cruz Head Coach Casey Hill had seen the big man from La Vernia play before.

As the story goes, Coach Hill was first introduced to Kevin when he was a junior at St. Mary’s. Hill was in San Antonio to work out some post players, and approached Rattler Assistant Coach Bubba Meyer about using the St. Mary’s facilities. Meyer agreed.

When Hill and the professional athletes arrived, Kevin was sitting in the gym. Hill thanked Meyer for the use of the court, and Meyer said it was no problem, but did ask Hill to “work Kevin in.” Hill not knowing who “Kevin” was, Meyer made the comment that he was “just a guy” from the team.

Since Kevin was a post player, too, Hill agreed, and Kevin was rotated into the drills. When it came time for the one-on-one drills, however, Hill and the Warrior organization took notice in a big way.

It seems that Kevin dominated the guys he was put up against from start to finish. The junior guard from a Division II school was beating the pros at every aspect, scoring at will himself, while playing a level of defense that kept his opponents from scoring. It is said that Hill was shocked by what he was seeing, and looked around for Meyer, who had been watching and laughing from the corner of the gym. Kevin didn’t know it, but Hill made a point to watch him throughout the remainder of his collegiate career.

Hill said in an interview that Kevin played at the very top of Division II basketball, and that he recognized teams would double or triple team Kevin, and yet Kevin would still shoot over .600 from the field and averaged a double-double during his senior season. A player who could find so much success against such defensive pressure had to be doing lots of things right.

Making the Warriors team was one thing, but how would Kevin adjust to the higher level of competition? As it turns out, he had no trouble at all.

In his first game with the Warriors, Kevin impressed not only his coaches and teammates, but also everyone who saw him in action. He scored 19 points by hitting on 9 of 10 shots, pulled down 15 rebounds, and picked up four assists.

As the season rolls on, Kevin continues to make the most of his playing opportunities. As of press time, Kevin led the Santa Cruz Warriors in field goal percentage at .615, and is averaging nearly 10 points per game. He is also hitting the boards well, and has a rebounding average of 7.3 per game. Considering the limited minutes he is playing, the numbers are even a bit surprising to Kevin. He is playing well with his teammates, and the Warriors are currently in the lead in the West Division.

So where does the road lead for Kevin Kotzur? No one is quite sure about that. While it could keep him in Santa Cruz for a few years, it may just be a detour on the way to Germany, or somewhere overseas, or perhaps it’s just a stop on the way to the NBA. Whatever the case, it’s a ride Kevin is going to enjoy until the very end.

Considering he was just about to return to school to work toward a master’s degree, it’s exciting to see his basketball career is taking off.

Best of luck, Kevin.

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