By Andrew Johnson
Former North Muskegon basketball standout Spencer Krannitz has happily learned that lesson.
After three years of playing at Central Michigan University, where his court time dwindled by his junior season, Krannitz is playing his first season for Fresno Pacific University, a Division II Christian college in California.
And he’s doing very well, averaging 13.5 points per game and shooting 54 percent.
It took some time, but Krannitz finally realizes that a smaller school is the best option for him.
“I kind of like the transition to a smaller school, you get to know everyone a little better,” said Krannitz, 22, a 6-5 guard who has started in eight of his team’s 10 games.
“Being with the team every day helps me a lot. We’re all close and we only get closer by traveling and rooming together.
“I would probably say that I’m not homesick, but I miss my family and some of my close friends. I have two nieces and it’s kind of hard because they can make a big transition while I’m gone.”
Krannitz credits his new head coach, Tim Kisner, for helping him adjust to being 2,300 miles from home, instead of 100 miles away in Mount Pleasant.
“What I like about Kisner is that he makes it mandatory to come in for a meeting every week, and he really cares about your personal life,” said Krannitz. “My past coaches didn’t do that so I feel like it’s been a big help.”
Kisner said Krannitz has been a good fit.
“I’ll check in with him once in a while to make sure he isn’t homesick, but we don’t talk basketball much in our meetings, we mostly talk family,” said the coach, who added that Krannitz has the right personality to make such an adjustment.
“The simple fact that he’s unselfish and easy going helps him fit in with his teammates.”
Krannitz had numerous options coming out of North Muskegon High School, where he led the state with a 30 point per game average in the 2011-12 season.
“Out of high school all that was on my mind was that I wanted to play Division I,” he said. “I never wanted to play Division II. I had a lot of offers to do that but I never really looked into them much.
“I talked to some other Mid-American Conference schools like Northern Illinois but I really liked the coaches at Central.”
His experience at CMU didn’t turn out exactly as planned, for a variety of reasons.
For starters, Coach Ernie Zeigler, who recruited Krannitz to Central Michigan, was fired by the university in March 2012, just before Krannitz signed his letter of intent.
Keno Davis became the Chippewas’ new head coach in April, and he quickly called Krannitz to set up a meeting.
“He made sure to call me after he was hired and he was really a nice guy,” Krannitz said. “I liked the idea of playing for him.”
Krannitz played in 19 games during his freshman season at Central Michigan. The highlight was a game against Michigan when he scored eight points.
Krannitz appeared in 25 games as a sophomore, but only saw the court in one game in 2014-15.
A concussion just days before the first game last season derailed his hopes for a big year. He tried to come back at one point, but experienced recurring headaches.
He applied for and received medical redshirt status, which qualified him for two more seasons of NCAA basketball. But he ultimately decided he wanted to spend those seasons somewhere else.
“I wanted to have more freedom,” Krannitz said. “I wanted an opportunity to make more plays and play my game, instead of standing in one spot and shooting like some wanted me to.”
Krannitz credits Davis for helping him arrange a transfer to another college.
“He was willing to help me and make sure I found a school,” Krannitz said. “He kept in touch with me and I really appreciated him helping me through the process.”
Kisner, the Fresno Pacific coach, had recruited Krannitz out of high school while he was an assistant coach at Lake Superior State University. He quickly contacted Krannitz when he learned he was on the open market.
“Once he got his release and I found out, I called him and he had already heard from some other schools,” Kisner said. “We ended up inviting him out for a visit and were able to close the deal with him.”
Fresno Pacific was the only school Krannitz visited after deciding to transfer.
“Knowing Kisner from when he had previously recruited me, and the way he talked about wanting to run his program, I didn’t really have an interest in taking other visits,” Krannitz said.
“I got off the plane on my visit and it was 105 degrees outside, which I really liked. After talking with Kisner and his assistants I knew it’d be a good fit for me.”
Krannitz said if he could do it all over again, he might take offers from Division II colleges more seriously.
“I learned a lot at the higher level (at CMU), and met a lot of great people and made good friends,” said Krannitz, who is majoring in criminal justice, but may want to play pro basketball overseas when his college days are done. “Some of those relationships I’ll have forever.
“In the long run it worked out, so I can’t complain.”