The Koch brothers were raised on basketball. Their father played collegiately for the University of Wisconsin-Steven's Point, and playing recreationally was a favorite pastime for the three brothers growing up, so it's easy to see why they share such a passion for the sport.
"One of the earliest memories I have is dribbling a basketball in the driveway," said Jake Koch, a senior studying sports psychology at UNI and the middle Koch brother.
The brothers have come a long way from those early days playing together in their driveway. In 2006, the oldest Koch brother, Adam, made the move from the brothers' hometown of Ashwaubenon, Wisc., to Cedar Falls to play for the UNI men's basketball team.
Within two years, Adam made a name for himself on the team. Little did he know, he wasn't just making a name for himself, he was building a legacy.
When Jake saw what a positive experience his brother was having at UNI, "I knew I wanted to come here too," he said. During Adam's junior year, Jake began his first year as a Panther and started playing on the basketball team with his brother, an experience that was beneficial to both of them.
"Jake and I became so close during those years," said Adam. "There were a lot of experiences we enjoyed that few brothers have the opportunity to."
Jake had the added benefit of learning from his brother's two years of experience on the team. "I just followed him around to see what he did," Jake said. "When he would work out, how he would handle himself. That's really what helped me today."
That experience helped Jake develop the skills and confidence to keep playing and improving his game after Adam graduated. Jake has held his own on the basketball team since, and continues to play a major role on the court.
"This is what every college player's dream is," he said.
However, the dream is coming to an end, as Jake plans to graduate in May, but he is on to bigger things. Jake hopes to once again follow in his brother's footsteps and play basketball overseas before pursuing a career in sports psychology or coaching. Adam played for the Czech Republic after he graduated in 2010 and is currently back in the U.S. playing for the Bakersfield Jam NBA D-League.
For the youngest Koch brother, Bennett, the dream is just beginning. He has just signed on to play for UNI beginning this fall.
"I'm extremely excited to play at UNI," said Bennett. "My brothers have only great things to say about the program."
The brothers also have nothing but good things to say about each other.
"I am very excited for Bennett to be attending UNI," said Adam. "Jake and I had great experiences there and I'm sure Bennett will as well."
Jake echoed this sentiment. "He's going to have a good career here," he said. "I'm so proud of him."
Bennett realizes how his brothers' experiences have benefitted him. "I've learned a lot watching my brothers play for UNI," he said. "They've taught me a lot on both offense and defense, but most of all they taught me to work hard."
While Bennett doesn't feel pressure to measure up to his brothers' success, he does realize the importance of upholding his family's reputation at UNI. "I hope I can continue to have success in basketball and in the classroom," said Bennett. "I know that I'm my own person, but I hope I'll continue to leave a positive impression of the Koch name."
The Koch basketball legacy doesn't end with Bennett, however. The brothers have a younger sister who is currently involved with her school's basketball team. While it's unclear if she will extend the Koch tradition and play for the UNI women's basketball team, one thing is for sure -- for the Koch family, basketball is more than just a game, it's a bonding experience.