Mentors, former coaches praise Koenig's development - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Mentors, former coaches praise Koenig's development

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It was at this point last year that Bronson Koenig first came to national prominence.

He scored 11 points against Kentucky in the Final Four as a freshman coming off the bench when Traevon Jackson got into foul trouble.

This year he's taken his game to another level, ironically filling in for Jackson again, who missed 19 games with a foot injury.

To two of his mentors and former coaches, Koenig's success comes as no surprise.

"He's part of our community. We all feel like we have something here. This kid is representing all of us. You hear "La Crosse, Wisconsin" mentioned during the broadcasts and we all have a sense of pride," said former La Crosse Aquinas head coach Rick Schneider.

Koenig cut his basketball teeth in the youth leagues in and around the La Crosse YMCA.

While most players his age were growing into the game, Koenig displayed an innate feel it right away.

"He understood how to play the game. He understood the fine details that equate to success on the basketball court," said Schneider.

"We knew that once he started to understand the game of basketball he would take off. His talent would just take off and go through the roof," said Richie Johnson, who coached Koenig at the YMCA and remains in close contact with him.

Koenig took flight once he took over for an injured Traevon Jackson.

In 21 games as a starter he's averaged 11.5 points a game while keeping his turnovers to a minimum.

To some, his success came as a surprise.

To those who know him didn't.

"It's your time now. I think he knew it was time to step up. He's a kid that does not like to lose and he loves challenges," Johnson said.

Success has followed the Badgers sophomore.

He helped Aquinas win two state titles in high school and now will compete in his second Final Four in 2 years at Wisconsin.

"The thing that I've always said about him is that he's a gamer. The bigger the game is, the better Bronson is going to perform," said Schneider.

"I think it's big to have a product out of La Crosse that's doing well, in a sport that he loves so dearly, that he has put in numerous hours of time to get to where he is at right now," Johnson added.

"We talked about when he was here that he wanted to win a national title some day. To think in his first two years of college he's gone to the Final Four, I mean, what an accomplishment," said Schneider.

The Badgers play Kentucky Saturday at 7:49 PM in Indianapolis in the national semifinals.

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