Cam Krutwig, ex-Loyola Ramblers star, is going camping

Cam Krutwig, ex-Loyola Ramblers star, is going camping

“I think I realized pretty early that the Europe route was going to be it for me,” former Loyola player Cameron Krutwig said. “I think it’s where I fit in, and I don’t mind the life in Europe.”

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Former Loyola basketball standout Cameron Krutwig has been back in the area for the last month, reuniting with family and friends, helping out with his alma mater’s basketball camps and crashing at his parents’ house in Algonquin.

OK, so it isn’t quite an Elvis-returns-to-Tupelo-level homecoming. But for the lefty center who was gone for 10 months playing his first season of professional basketball in Belgium, it has been really nice.

What’s next for Krutwig, 23? He’ll leave again for Europe in August, probably back to Antwerp, where he has a contract for next season. But the Giants have a new coach, opportunities seem to have a way of coming and going more unpredictably the farther a player is from home and, well, Krutwig — who averaged 7.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per game as a rookie — will just have to wait and see.

“It’s just kind of how it works,” he said. “It’s the professional life. I’m just going to be patient at this point.”

One thing he has already learned to set aside hope for is an NBA opportunity coming his way. Sure, he went to the Final Four to cap a terrific freshman season. Yes, he outplayed Illinois All-American Kofi Cockburn in a high-profile NCAA Tournament upset as a senior. Sheesh, this is one of only four players ever — Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird and Hersey Hawkins being the others — to amass 1,500 points, 800 rebounds and 300 assists in the Missouri Valley Conference. With his footwork and passing, Krutwig undoubtedly could have held his own in the Big Ten or any other major league.

To all of which the NBA said: So?

Last week’s draft was — for Krutwig and many others — a reminder of how such dismissal feels. He tuned in and watched skinny teenagers come off the board, knowing full well he would’ve handed some of them their lunch head-to-head in a college game. He hoped to hear Ramblers teammate Lucas Williamson’s name called, but it didn’t happen for the fifth-year senior (who instead signed as a free agent with the Clippers). Krutwig shook his head as Ohio State veteran E.J. Liddell — one of the nation’s sturdiest, most well-rounded college forwards — tumbled into the second round.

You know what? Whatever, it’s fine. Krutwig is cool with it.

“I think I realized pretty early that the Europe route was going to be it for me,” he said. “I think it’s where I fit in, and I don’t mind the life in Europe. You get a car, you get a house, you get your living paid for, you get to play professional basketball and live in a different country. My girlfriend and I were able to do a bunch of stuff, visit a bunch of places.

“You know, it’s all good — and I’m going to keep doing it as long as they’ll let me.”

If Krutwig can squeeze seven to 10 more years out of pro ball, he’ll be a happy camper. And speaking of which, something he’d like to do for even longer than that is host his own basketball camp for up-and-coming players. Might Krutwig enjoy coaching in the traditional sense someday? Sure, he’d consider following in the footsteps of Loyola coaches Porter Moser and Drew Valentine. But he knows for certain he wants to be involved in player development at the youth level.

Before Krutwig got to Loyola, he attended all sorts of camps in Wisconsin, in North Carolina, in Chicagoland and elsewhere. Along the way, he rubbed elbows with future lottery picks — Deandre Ayton and Josh Jackson, to name two — and with countless others who wouldn’t get to the NBA but were serious players with serious aspirations. These days, while NBA newcomers are off to summer league, Krutwig is trying to get his own, brand-new camp off the ground. Details about the Krutwig Basketball Academy are all over his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Krutwig has wingmen in fellow pros Kendale McCullum and Amanze Egekeze. McCullum, from Elgin (Larkin), plays in Germany and Egekeze, from Lake in the Hills (Huntley), in the Netherlands.

By the start of the week, sign-ups for his camp — set to begin Aug. 1 — were coming along slowly, but Krutwig was determined to make it work.

“Getting the word out has been tough,” he said, “but we’re still a month away and there’s plenty of time. I just need to get some people through the door so they can experience it. I want to teach what I’ve learned and what I’m continuing to learn, and I’ve learned a lot. I think this is a great opportunity for them and for me. It’s definitely something I’m excited about doing.”

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