While describing Fort Hays State University junior guard Corbin Kuntzsch, head coach Mark Johnson went as far to say that he is a “coach’s dream.”
However, Kuntzsch isn’t likely to win any conference player of the year awards. He isn’t even the team’s leading scorer.
In fact, his 10.9 points per game is only the third-highest average of the team, and he has only the sixth-highest shooting percentage out of players averaging 10 or more minutes per game.
Nevertheless, he plays a team-high 29.9 minutes per game, rarely seeing the bench.
Johnson said a large part of what makes Kuntzsch such a good basketball player isn’t what he does with the ball but what he does without it.
“(Kuntsch) is the best player playing without the basketball,” Johnson said. “It is kind of a lost art, but he can play without the basketball. The game is just a natural fit for him.”
Whether it is playing defense, setting screens or just having on-court awareness, Kuntzsch does it all.
“He is by far the smartest player that I’ve ever played with,” senior forward Tim Peintner said. “For me, being down low at the post is second nature like breathing, but for him, the whole game is second nature.”
Kuntzsch has committed the fewest turnovers and the fewest fouls per minute than any other player on the team.
“We just expect him to do the smart things,” senior point guard Willie Hassell said. “We don’t expect anything stupid out of Corbin.”
That is part of the reason the 6-foot, 4-inch guard leads the team in rebounding, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game.
Though Kuntzsch is outsized by many of the forwards on the team, he still manages to crash the glass and gather more rebounds than any other player.
“Most threes on other teams aren’t that concerned with getting to the glass, and it comes back to him being a smart player and being able to attack the glass,” Peintner said.
The other element of rebounding is toughness, which is Johnson’s favorite strength that Kuntzsch possesses.
“Rebounding is just toughness and will,” Johnson said. “Corbin has the toughness and the want to. It is not always about who jumps the highest or who is the quickest. It is about who wants it the most.”
But for Kuntzsch, his favorite statistic isn’t anything on FHSU’s side of the stat page; it is on the opposing team’s stat page.
Kuntzsch is regarded as one of the Tigers’ best lockdown defenders and regularly guards the opposing team’s best non-post player.
“If I can hold the best player’s score below his average, that is what I like to look at the most,” Kuntzsch said.
In FHSU’s 79-68 victory at the University of Nebraska-Omaha (1-1 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, 6-1 overall) on Saturday, Maverick junior guard Tyler Bullock walked into the game averaging a team-high 19 points per game.
Kuntzsch held him to only four points off of 1-of-6 shooting and forced Bullock to commit six turnovers while only committing two fouls in the process.
“(Bullock) is real strong and athletic kind of offensive player,” Peintner said. “He puts his shoulder down and gets guys out of the way. Corbin guards him, and he goes 1-for-6 with six turnovers. You aren’t going to out-tough Corbin.”
Kuntzsch is the member of an athletic family from Scott City. He has four other siblings — all of whom have competed in collegiate athletics.
His younger brother Levi plays football at Pittsburg State University, but Kuntzsch said his three older sisters, Jami, Bridget and Sheena, were his inspiration as he grew up.
Jami and Bridget played volleyball at Garden City Community College and next went to FHSU, where Jami competed on the track and field team.
Sheena played basketball at FHSU where she set the record for most free throw attempts in a game and made the all-time list for numerous other records.
“All of them worked and did the right things on and off the court,” Kuntzsch said.
Though his three sisters attended FHSU, the decision to become a Tiger was based on different factors.
“It was close to home, so my parents could make most of the games,” Kuntzsch said. “I liked the way they were coached and played, and Fort Hays was a successful program.”
Kuntzsch was also reunited with his long-time teammate from Scott City, Peintner, who played with Kuntzsch from their early MAYB years.
“It was like my brother was coming,” Peintner said about when he heard about Kuntzsch’s decision to attend FHSU.
“We are real close. We room together on road trips, and we’ve been going for a lot of years. He is like a little brother to me. “
This long-time companionship has equated into success for the two Scott City teammates, who have become a central component to this FHSU team over the past three seasons.
“We’ve played together for I don’t know how many years,” Kuntzsch said. “We know what each other is thinking. If we pop out and run a two-man game, I am going to know what he is going to do every time.”
Though Kuntzsch is not necessarily an offensive outlier, his heightened court sense helps his team improve in the most important statistic of all — the win column.