“I have known him since seventh grade and was coaching him in AAU up until this year,” said Mlachnik. “The rankings truly do not reflect how good he is.”
Podziemski was a star baseball player — left-handed pitcher and speedy outfielder — and did not play AAU basketball until his freshman year.
“You could see then he was top five in state even though he was not ranked,” Mlachnik said. “He skyrocketed that first year.
He’s not in the top 250 in the 2021 recruiting class in the 247Sports Composite and is only the 59th ranked shooting guard in his class. Yet he not only has a Kentucky scholarship offer but he also has one from Kansas to go with ones he already had before his national profile increased.
“He first came in as more of a shooter. He can shoot lights out. But some of the stuff you can’t see on film is that he’s an absolute competitor, one of the biggest I have been around,” his coach said. “You can’t see the little things he does on defense. His reactions are the best I have seen at this level. Offensively the kick and score, he can flat score it for you. He’s always working on his shot.”
Mlachnik said Podziemski is “professional” with his shot and always making adjustments to make it better.
“His sophomore year was his first year at St. John’s and he averaged 24.5 points (per game), made all-state and did a ton of damage from the 3-point line,” the coach said. “That summer after his sophomore year he really worked on creating off the dribble, improving his ball handling. Last year he averaged just under 28 a game and lot of that was off his playmaking. Teams knew he could shoot and his playmaking ability just took off.”
Podziemski has kept his recruiting “under tight wraps” but his coach does not think he will have a long timetable for making a college choice. The team’s first practice won’t be until Nov. 23 due to COVID-19 restrictions and the first game will be Dec. 1.
“I would not say I expected the Kentucky and Kansas offers for him but knowing and coaching him three-four years, I knew you don’t see what he has very often. His determination and passion for the game is not something you see in a lot of kids at that age. He is always the kid getting better and better, so I knew he was on a path for big things,” Mlachnik said.
Podziemski’s focus extends to his academics as well where he has a 4.0 grade-point average. His coach says he attacks academic goals just like he does athletic goals.
“We have kids here from all over the world. Asia, Mexico, all over the U.S. are in the boarding school here along with some local kids like Brandin,” Mlachnik said. “He is very disciplined. I couldn’t say enough good things about him and somebody is going to get a really good player and person when he makes his college choice.”