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Article updated: 1/16/2014 8:14 PM
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Easy to account for Kruse's basketball focus
 

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Easy to account for Kruse's basketball focus
  • Lake Zurich's Brad Kruse, left, battles Libertyville's Joe Borcia for a rebound.

    Purchase Photo | Lake Zurich's Brad Kruse, left, battles Libertyville's Joe Borcia for a rebound. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  •  Lake Zurich's Brad Kruse, left, and Libertyville's Johnny Vernasco chase a loose ball during NSC Lake play at Lake Zurich.

    Purchase Photo | Lake Zurich's Brad Kruse, left, and Libertyville's Johnny Vernasco chase a loose ball during NSC Lake play at Lake Zurich. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 

When Brad Kruse is tested in a gym, he usually passes with flying colors.

The self-described "gym rat" has been a double-figure scorer for Lake Zurich for the last two years, and is currently averaging about 14 points as a team captain.

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But Kruse, a versatile 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard who has filled in as a post player when the Bears have had a void there, has a much different kind of gym test coming up. It's a test that could have even more to do with his future than a good game on the hardwood.

Kruse, an honors student who boasts a 4-plus grade point average, will take part in an upcoming Future Business Leaders of America test that will take place in the gym at Warren High School. Business-minded students from all over the area will compete for the best scores on a test that could cover everything from accounting to economics to business ethics and marketing.

"I've always been interested in business," said Kruse, who helped the Bears take care of business Wednesday night with a win at Streamwood that pushed their record to 10-7 on the season. "I'm thinking about being an accountant, just like my dad. I've interned for him the last two summers and it's interesting. I've learned a lot from him because he really knows a lot about it."

Fred Kruse, Brad's dad, also knows a lot about basketball. He was a standout player at Buffalo Grove High School and then played college ball at North Dakota and North Park.

When Brad took up basketball early in grade school, Fred was with him every step of the way, teaching him the fundamentals, encouraging him to work extra on his game, and coaching his youth teams.

"My dad helped to coach my feeder teams in sixth, seventh and eighth grade," said Kruse, who also averages about 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game, both team bests. "He taught me everything I know about basketball. He's helped with my shooting and ball-handling and mechanics.

"He's spent a lot of time with me."

An only child, Kruse says he's gotten a lot of his parents' attention. In fact, his dad has tried to also fill the role of an older brother, someone who would have seen it as his duty to toughen Brad up.

"I couldn't really play too hard against my dad, because he had his hip replaced when I was about 5 years old," Kruse said. "But he toughened me up in other ways. He'd push me to work hard every day. We'd do shooting contests and it would get intense.

"When he coached me when I was younger, he was always tougher on me than any of the other kids. That toughened me up, too."

Now, Kruse doesn't even blink an eye when his coaches ask him to play out of position or tangle with guys who are bigger than him. He welcomes the toughest of challenges.

"One of the best things about Brad is how versatile he is," Lake Zurich coach Billy Pitcher said. "He can play 1 through 5 and he's pretty equal at all positions. And he's almost always guarding the other team's best player. He's versatile on defense, too.

"I think it's partly because he's the hardest working guy in the program. Everything is always full-speed with him. He's always working on his game and finding different things to add to it."

Pitcher says he's never had to give Kruse even a nudge to push himself more, which makes Pitcher chuckle about a conversation he once had with Fred Kruse.

"Brad's dad just wanted to make sure Brad was always working hard," Pitcher said. "So one time, he told me not to be afraid to get in Brad's face to get him to work hard.

"Of course, I've never had to do that. Not even close. Brad always plays hard and works hard, all on his own. He's got an unbelievable motor."

Kruse, who started out as a 5-foot-6 freshman, is driven to get the most out of his growth spurt, his work ethic and his book smarts. He'd like to keep playing basketball at a college that can set him up for success in the business world.

He's looking at schools such as Illinois Wesleyan, Washington University, Carthage, Case Western, North Central and Lake Forest.

"I'm looking for a great combo of academics and basketball," Kruse said. "I used to be big into baseball but I stopped playing my freshman year because I really wanted to play basketball all year long so that I would have a better chance of getting recruited and playing in college.

"My dad was a basketball player in college and I think I've just always wanted to be like him."

So far, son has been a lot like father.

pbabcock@dailyherald.com

• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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