Lathrop’s senior leader Ben Kraska takes talents to Pacific Lutheran Basketball
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A year ago today, many student-athletes, including Ben Kraska, were locked out of gyms while NCAA recruiting came to a screeching halt. Still, Kraska kept his head down and focused on what he could control - his work ethic and his attitude.
The grind paid off for Lathrop’s senior leader, signing his national letter of intent to play basketball for Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington Tuesday.
“I just kept believing, kept working hard, something is going to come out of it eventually and I am here right now,” Kraska said after putting pen to paper in front of supporters in Lathrop’s library. “[Basketball] has definitely taught me about hard work and discipline, even though it sucks right now, you’ve got to go through the pain now, so you know its good later.”
Steadily progressing through the early stages of his high school career, the 6′3 forward put the Fairbanks basketball community on notice his junior year. Kraska led Lathrop to its first ever Joe T. Classic Title, while being named MVP of the respected tournament. During his senior year, Kraska was not only relied on for his talent on the court, but for his leadership as well. When things got tough for the Malemutes, the players would turn to their Captain for guidance.
“He was definitely the leader of that group,” said Lathrop head coach Matt Wilken.
A do-it-all-player for the Purple and Gold, Kraska averaged 15.1 points per game, 7.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists his senior year, while being the vocal anchor on defense. His efforts were recognized with a 2021 Mid Alaska All-Conference nod.
“He makes others around him better and his work ethic is unparalleled, he just gets after it every practice, every game,” added Wilken.
Pacific Lutheran competes in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference and are led by four-year head coach Chad Murray. While Kraska got a chance to visit other schools, it was the welcoming atmosphere that made it feel like the right fit.
“It was the [school] that stood at most, it felt like a family, just the home vibes and just like Fairbanks in general,” said Kraska.
While Kraska will be departing from Lathrop this spring (not before finishing out his senior soccer season), his impact on the school and basketball program will not be going anywhere.
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