Scholarpreps: Today we are excited to sit down with Paul Kurtz, he played basketball during his four years at Lake Superior State University. LSSU is a DII school in northern Michigan and provides a very competitive athletic program within the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Scholarpreps: Paul, are you happy with the decision to play college basketball? Some kids choose not to play and focus on being a student.
College helps prepare you for life
Paul: Yeah. I absolutely think it was the right thing to do. You learn and you grow at a pretty important time in your life where I think you’re setting the tone, whether it’s your career or how you go about your family life, you set a tone around scheduling, around things being difficult, around both physically and mentally being challenged constantly, and still having to complete a journey, whether that’s every day, every year or all four years. You’re really put to the test, and I think that physical and mental preparation really sets the tone for the rest of your life. So, yeah, I think it was an awesome experience.
Scholarpreps: What do you wish you knew about the college experience before you got there? Were you surprised from a competitive perspective, or the work effort required to be competitive?
During Your college visit make sure you get the right feeling
Paul: Well, the first thing is you’re making those decisions when you have an 18-year-old brain, so what I would say is, I don’t know that I had a bunch of expectations. I knew I was going to go play college basketball. I wish I had some different perspectives, like not having to be close to home. You get into the real world and you travel and you go, “Hey, it would have been cool to live maybe somewhere else.” And I didn’t need to be close to my girlfriend, or you start to have those types of thoughts.
I did commit on my visit and not many people do that. It was my first visit. I think the things I cared about at that age, and the important factors on my list were met in that first visit and made the decision much easier. I said, “Hey, this is right for me and feels good.” These are important feelings to hit during your visits, and I was lucky enough to get those on the first one. What I would tell student athletes today would be to slow down and be patient. I don’t know though that I could have taught myself to open your eyes a little bit more because it’s hard to think that way when you’re 18.
When did you start the recruiting process?
Scholarpreps: When did you start that recruiting process? Were you involved with a travel league or programs that showcased your skills?
Paul: So I started getting some light recruiting in my sophomore year. I did a lot of camps, five-star basketball camp. here was early recruiting from that perspective. I was kind of on the very edge of where you could still not play AAU and still get attention and get college scholarships. I think after my time, it became more of a requirement to basically be seen a lot by these different coaches. So a lot of mine was more senior year, and it was more mid to later senior year. I had a phenomenal senior year and that’s where I got most of my notice. I didn’t come from a big powerhouse traditional school and so I think it was just a little later because of that.
Why did you choose DII school?
Scholarpreps: In the recruiting process, did you get a chance to visit the different sized schools like Division II and III, and watch a game?
Paul: So if you were to go back to an earlier question, what things did you wish you knew? So one, I had visits and I had offers D I, D II, D III. I actually, and this is a personal story, you can decide whether you wanted it in or not, but my sister, when she was older and she went on a recruiting trip, it was to Lake Superior State, and I went with her and my dad. It was a really cool experience to then go there later and have such a great visit. The coaches were great people. It just seemed a very almost home type of feeling when I went up there.
I played against a lot of college guys during the summer camps and noticed they “systems” they would play were different and some suited my abilities better than others. I wish I paid attention to during the recruiting process what systems the school had implemented to fit my game. That was probably a big miss by me, because I was viewing it more as I’m going to get a college education and I’m going to play basketball. I didn’t really put in that effort I would today because matching up their systems, how they play, that becomes important for your college success. Otherwise, you’re changing how you play to their system, which takes time and it requires a lot of work.
How important is watching a game during visit?
Scholarpreps: I would agree with that. Seeing the game, not necessarily to study the film, but from a football perspective, to watch those guys play in person and watch from a perspective of, “Do I have the skills, speed, talent to play at certain levels?” I think it’s critically important during the recruiting visit.
Paul: Yeah. How do you visualize yourself fitting into that game? Because It’s hard for an 18-year-old to say, “Hey, I think I’m good enough to play. I mean, you come in being the top of the mountain. I don’t think I ever thought I couldn’t play with these guys, but looking at the system and does it fit how you play, you’re taking their word that says, “Hey, we’re recruiting you because we think you fit in.” Well, do you feel you fit into how they visualize you playing on the team. I think that’s really important and something that I would encourage parents to also try to understand because, again, it’s harder as an 18-year-old to understand that full breadth of what that means.
How did playing in college help your career?
Scholarpreps: In moving out of the college experience, you graduate and you’re off into your career, what did you learn from the whole college experience in juggling the studying as well as the game itself and the training? How did that help you be successful today?
Paul: I think a whole bunch of different areas. One, whether I’m hiring someone or I see why I’ve been successful in my work, a lot of it has to do with competitiveness, waking up every day and being competitive in everything you do. And then adding on a schedule that requires you to be in the gym six hours, team commitments of eight hours on top of your schoolwork. It’s a lot of responsibility. It’s a lot of scheduling. It’s a lot of juggling a lot of different balls and they all have to stay in the air. I think that as I transitioned to the business world, it’s funny, you would have a lot of coworkers think things are hard during their day. And I remember just running until you almost passed out constantly. And so when it comes to work, work is easy, especially when you can put that in context