La Crosse Aquinas grad Bronson Koenig hosts basketball camp in hometown

Grant Geier, a 10-year-old from Sparta, has his photo taken Wednesday with Bronson Koenig, former University of Wisconsin and Aquinas High School basketball star, after participating in Bronson Koenig Shooting Academy at the Mathy Center Boys & Girls Club at Viterbo University.

Peter Thomson, La Crosse Tribune

Bronson Koenig will get in his car and drive back to Madison tonight and pick up where he left off Tuesday.

A short break to bring the Bronson Koenig Shooting Academy to La Crosse for a two-day stay at the Amie L. Mathy Center on the campus of Viterbo University gave Koenig a chance to ground himself a bit as he continues to live the dream of becoming a professional basketball player.

Koenig signed a two-way contract with the Milwaukee Bucks three weeks ago. Preparation for his first NBA training camp — it starts in September — will resume when he returns to the apartment he kept after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in May.

“I have to get back to train,” said Koenig, who arrived in La Crosse on Tuesday night and started his youth camp with a 10 a.m. session Wednesday. “I’ll do some of it in Madison, some in Milwaukee and maybe some in San Diego.

“It’s going to be fun, and I’m ready for it.”

But Koenig, an Aquinas High School graduate, was also looking forward to being in La Crosse for a couple of days to work with the kids in his hometown. La Crosse was the second stop for the Bronson Koenig Shooting Academy, which debuted in Johnson Creek, Wis., the last week of June.

The next one takes place in Oshkosh, Wis., on Sunday and Monday, and Koenig will likely use those day to familiarize himself — at least a little bit — with the city he will call home most of the time next season.

Koenig’s two-way contract means he will play mostly with the Bucks’ G-League team — the Wisconsin Herd — in Oshkosh. He will also be one of Milwaukee’s first considerations when its roster could use a player due to injury or other scenario.

Koenig ended up where he thought he would after an ankle injury cut short his workout with the Bucks and forced him to cancel workouts with other teams. He hoped Milwaukee would draft him, but he felt confident that something could get worked out even it it didn’t.

His first taste of basketball on its highest level came at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Koenig, a 6-foot-3 guard, averaged 5.2 points while playing an average of 15.8 minutes over five games, and he said it was an eye-opening experience.

“That first game,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t get in for awhile, and people were going in and coming out, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s so quick.’

“That made me a little nervous. But when I got in there and got into the flow … it’s just playing basketball. It wasn’t bad at all.”

Absorbing as much as he could, Koenig felt accomplished after the league ended. He said he didn’t play great basketball or poor basketball, but he felt like he showed some things the team wanted to see.

Koenig, 22, said his athleticism was on display as well as his ability to defend and shoot. Koenig didn’t set the nets on fire consistently — he made 10 of 34 shots — but he did go 3-for-5 from the 3-point line in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

“There were some things I wanted to show that I couldn’t because I was playing off the ball,” Koenig said. “One of the things I did was stay in front of guys, and I think that was a concern about my ability to do that.

“But I’m used to playing on the ball, and I didn’t get the touches I’m used to having.”

The good news is that Koenig will get every opportunity to show how his game relates to that of the level at which he is playing. The speed and spacing should do nothing but help him showcase the court vision that attracted most of the top Division I programs in the nation while he led the Blugolds to two WIAA Division 3 state championships.

Koenig was a dynamic point guard for the Blugolds, and that wasn’t on full display while he directed Wisconsin’s swing offense. The Badgers won 115 games with him on their roster as he adjusted his game to fit the system.

Koenig made 270 3-pointers and had 296 assists as a Badger, and he likely anticipated averaging more than 2.0 assist during his 148-game career.

Playing five games against competition mixed with players already owning NBA contracts and others playing for them showed Koenig he is on the right path to fulfill his professional goal.

“When I was out there, I felt like I belonged,” he said of his experience in the Summer League. “The pace of the game was perfectly fine to me.

“I felt like once I finally adjust and the game slows down for me, I’m going to be really good. That’s how I felt.”

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