Junior center Kolton Kohl sticks out on campus and is a challenge to stop inside the paint. Standing a seven feet, Kohl has the height advantage in nearly every game he plays.
Before coming to ACU, he played in his hometown at San Angelo Central High School, where he was awarded the district’s defensive player of the year his senior season.
After redshirting his first year as a Wildcat, he started seeing increased minutes. Last season, he started four games and appeared in 30 as ACU reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Since losing to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Kohl said the team has had to make big adjustments about how it approach each game.
“Last year, we had a few players we could go to, but this season we really emphasize team offense and team defense,” Kohl said. “We like to spread the ball and get everyone involved.”
This season, five Wildcats average over eight points per game, including Kohl who’s averaging 10.4 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and is shooting the ball at 57.3 percent.
He contributes his improvement this season to his offseason work with coaches. Although behind the scenes, he believes it has shown on the court.
“Obviously after Kentucky last season, a lot of people saw from ACU how I could play against bigger and better players,” Kohl said. “I think this summer, I really emphasized weight gain. I knew that during preseason, we would emphasize our skills and fundamentals, but I came up early here this summer, emphasizing the inside-out game.”
Winning a conference championship is impressive enough, but the Wildcats are looking to repeat as Southland Champions. Kohl said they’re trying to stay focused on the task in front of them and not down the road.
“We’re not really thinking way ahead of our schedule,” Kohl said “I know that we’re playing for each game at a time, but we try not to think ahead and realize that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
The Wildcats lost four starters last season on its run to the NCAA Tournament. Heading into this year, Kohl knew that he would have to assert himself into a serious role for the team.
“We knew that we were going to have a target on our back this year. So I knew I had to state my dominance, I have to play to the best of my ability and my teammates need to be able to trust in me.”
He also said this year is the best he’s felt health-wise, as Kohl came out of high school with knee injuries.
“I feel good,” Kohl said. “My knees are feeling great this year, the best they’ve ever felt. I know that the recovery process was very long, but I know that God has a plan for everyone. His plan was that three years after surgery, that hard work was gonna pay off.”
ACU currently sits 9-7 overall after competitive non-conference play. However, they are in second place in the conference with a 4-1 conference record.
Kohl and the Wildcats will look to keep pace with the competition this Saturday when they face Southeastern Louisiana (5-12, 2-4 SLC) at 7 p.m.