Cameron Krutwig never has been to Europe, but the former Jacobs and Loyola basketball star is going to see plenty of it soon.
The 6-foot-9 Krutwig signed last week to play professional basketball with the Antwerp Giants of the EuroMillions Basketball League, the highest tier of professional basketball in Belgium. Krutwig is living and training in and around Algonquin now, but departs for Belgium on Aug. 8.
The NCAA allowed all basketball players the opportunity to return for an extra year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Krutwig turned down his extra year at Loyola to turn pro. He signed a two-year deal with Antwerp.
Krutwig had previous workouts with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies in June. There also was an opportunity in Australia that looked promising for a while, but eventually fell through.
He spent his spring “preparing like I was going to get drafted.”
“I was preparing like I was going to be an NBA player, and I still can be,” Krutwig said. “There’s tons of stories about guys going over to Europe for a couple years and then coming back into the NBA.”
At 6-9, Krutwig is a few inches shorter than the ideal size for an NBA center. But he also doesn’t have the long-range shooting experience that many teams want in a stretch-four power forward these days.
Krutwig’s game at Loyola was reminiscent of old-school big men. He could execute a variety of beautiful post moves, while also showcasing a passing ability that could make a point guard jealous. But NBA teams are looking for forwards who can stretch the floor with their shooting ability.
“That’s probably one of the main reasons why I didn’t get as much interest from NBA teams,” Krutwig said. “Just the shooting aspect. If I was maybe two or three inches taller, I wouldn’t have to worry as much about being as good of a shooter. But I am what I am. I’m a little bit undersized for the NBA [at center], obviously, those guys are all 7-footers. It’s not knocking myself or anything, it’s just being realistic.”
Krutwig, 22, is excited to keep developing his body and his game. A professional career in Europe presents an opportunity to keep improving. He has been training with local basketball trainer Zac Boster, who has coached many of the top basketball players throughout McHenry County. The two have worked together for several years.
Honing in on his jump shot has been a focus all spring and summer. It was something he simply wasn’t asked to do at Jacobs or at Loyola.
“It’s not all going to change in a couple months,” Krutwig said. “I’ve only been doing it like two, three months now. Shooting’s a process. Guys take years to perfect their shot, years to become lethal shooters.”
Krutwig also has been working out at Spear Training Center in Vernon Hills. He has cut his weight a little bit and said he’s looking more lean and toned.
His mustache, however, remains.
“Oh yeah,” Krutwig said. “I’m still rocking the stache. Just because. It kind of feels right now.”
In high school, Krutwig helped Jacobs win three regional titles in his four seasons on varsity. His senior year, the Golden Eagles went 30-2, won an IHSA Class 4A sectional title and finished one win short of heading to state. He was the 2017 Northwest Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
At Loyola, he helped the Ramblers to the 2018 NCAA Final Four, capturing the attention of the nation. Loyola returned to March Madness this spring, beating No. 1-seeded Illinois on its way to a Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Krutwig finished his college career with 1,833 points, 944 rebounds and 373 assists – making him the only player in school history to rank in the top 10 in points, rebounds and assists.
Krutwig was the only Loyola senior who didn’t take advantage of the extra year of eligibility. Even without Krutwig, the Ramblers should have an experienced team playing under first-year head coach Drew Valentine.
“I’m at peace with everything I’ve done at Loyola, and it’s definitely time for me to move on and start my professional career,” Krutwig said.
The Belgian league and the pro league in the Netherlands will be joining forces during the 2021-22 season to form the BNXT League. That means Krutwig could be playing against former Loyola teammate Donte Ingram and former Huntley star Amanze Egekeze, who both signed with Donar, based in Groningen, Netherlands.
“It could be a little Illinois reunion,” Krutwig said.