Archive for Sunday, November 7, 2004

Kleinmann living dream

November 7, 2004


From the vantage point of the average person, Matt Kleinmann is a guy who easily could be spotted in any crowd.

Kleinmann is tall at 6-foot-10, and his red hair blazes.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that he also plays basketball for Kansas University.

But from his own viewpoint, the Overland Park native is an in-state player living any Kansas boy's childhood dream.

"Growing up in Kansas, I'd been watching this program my whole life," Kleinmann said. "It's like a dream come true to come and be a part of it."

Kleinmann -- who is known simply as Big Red by Jayhawk teammates -- said his position on the team would be limited. But even before KU coach Bill Self said he would red-shirt Kleinmann, the walk-on said he knew many of his duties would be less than glamorous.

Still, the Blue Valley West standout relishes the role.

"I don't see myself as a walk-on player, just one who is a member of the team," Kleinmann said. "I come in knowing there are no promises, no guarantees."

That's something he had from other Division One institutions.

Kleinmann said a "handful of schools, on both coasts" guaranteed playing time and offered scholarships. Instead, he chose Kansas, where he'd taken part in basketball summer camps for more than a decade.

"It's something I can work toward, rather than at Pacific where I might be the next big guy or the starter. If I do anything at KU, it's because I work for it," Kleinmann said.

Another major factor for picking KU was that Kleinmann, a perfect 4.0 student, already was accepted into KU's School of Architecture.

"It kind of worked out with my degree too," said a smiling Kleinmann, as if needing to justify why he picked KU over schools like Pacific, South Florida, Valparaiso, Yale or even declining a similar walk-on position at North Carolina.

"Everything kind of fit into place when I looked at Kansas, and it's a place where I've always felt comfortable, and more importantly, always dreamed of playing."

Full name: Matthew Ryan KleinmannClass: freshmanHeight: 6-10Weight: 230Hometown: Overland ParkHigh school: Blue Valley WestMajor: architectureBirthdate: February 25, 1986

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