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June 30, 2014
Dekker talks Durant camp, offseason
One of 28 collegiate players invited to the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, Sam Dekker represented the University Wisconsin well at the position-specific instructional and developmental camp.
Dekker, along with Aaron White (Iowa), Terran Petteway (Nebraska), Dez Wells (Maryland) and D.J. Newbill (Penn State) were members of the Big Ten conference who participated at the three-day event held in Washington, D.C.
"It's awesome. Playing against KD (Durant) is something you always wish to be able to do one day and to be here and able to play against arguably one of the best players in the world is pretty special and something that I'll always remember," Dekker told Rivals.com on Sunday. "Hopefully this isn't the only time I'll be playing against him."
After recently completing his sophomore year at UW, Dekker, who started all 38 games this past season, measured in at 6-foot-9 and 229 pounds. The former five-start prospect from Sheboygan, Wis., also flashed athleticism and an ability to penetrate to the basket, something that should allow him to improve on the 12.4 points per game he averaged last season.
"I learned a lot of things here, mainly the importance of being a good ball handler and taking guys off the dribble to get to the rim," Dekker said. "You see guys like KD who are good shooters, but when it comes down to it they can get to the rim any time they want. It's something that I like doing, attacking, but I have to get better at it, though.
"I always saw myself as an athletic player and I think it surprises people because they think I'm just a perimeter shooter -- a white guy that likes to shoot the 3. But I like surprising people and taking it to the rim and playing above the rim. Our coaching staff and our training staff at Wisconsin does a great job of getting our bodies right and getting us bigger, stronger and faster. I definitely feel quicker and I definitely feel more explosive. I feel more healthy."
Dekker was a key cog in the Badgers' Final Four run earlier this year. The team returns four starters -- Dekker, Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson -- along with key reserves Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig and Duje Dukan, among others. Aaron Harrison's 3 from the wing with 5.7 seconds to play gave Kentucky a 74-73 and the right to play UConn in the national title game.
"We're hungry and we're still pretty bitter after that Kentucky game," said Dekker, who scored 15 points against the Wildcats. "It was one that we let slip away a little bit there and that sticks with us. But making that run, I think, makes us a much more mature team that is bound to do something good again.
"We're hungry, we're working hard and it's been a good offseason so far. We lost Ben Brust and he did great things for us, but that's a void that we have to fill. We're a year more experienced and a year better, and I think we can do something big."
Wisconsin, which finished 30-8 a season ago, will have rather large expectations heading into the summer. The plan, according to Dekker, is to take things one step at a time.
"You have to take it in baby steps and coach (Bo Ryan) always talks about winning every day, and when I go back to school on Tuesday it will be about winning that practice," Dekker said. "If you do that consistently and just think about the next and worry about the next, good things will fall into place. I think that's what's special about coach Ryan and our program, we don't look too far ahead of ourselves and we just take it one day at a time and one possession at a time. We do things that like, it stacks up for us and it usually works."
Dekker, KD Camp
Rivals.com's Jeff Rabjohns contributed to this report