Kansas University's men's basketball team will have both a Free State High and Lawrence High graduate on the squad next season.
Scholarship player Brady Morningstar, a former Firebird guard who signed with the Jayhawks in November, will be joined by Brennan Bechard, a 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore-to-be out of LHS and Barton County Community College.
Bechard, who averaged 2.6 points a game last year for 18-12 Barton County, has accepted an invited walk-on position on Bill Self's Jayhawk team.
"I've grown up my whole life being a huge KU fan. It's a dream come true for me," said Bechard, the son of KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard who moved to Lawrence in fifth grade, immediately becoming friends with former Southwest Junior High teammate Morningstar.
"I know my role as a walk-on is to help the team however I can," noted Bechard, who replaces graduated walk-on Stephen Vinson, another former LHS product. "I will practice hard, do well in the classroom, represent the team on and off the court. It's what a good walk-on should do."
Bechard, who logged 8.9 minutes a game off the bench last season at Barton, had 25 assists against 20 turnovers and hit 23 of 57 shots overall (40.4 percent), 18 of 44 threes (40.9 percent) and 11 of 14 free throws.
"He has as pure a shot as any kid I've coached. He can catch and shoot it. He's a great three-point shooter," Lawrence High coach Chris Davis said. "Brennan is a good kid - a coach's son. One thing I'll always remember is he got sick right before his junior year - mononucleosis. It was really bad. His neck was swollen way outside his head. He had to work really hard to get back. He did that, working out every day with his dad. I was really impressed."
Bechard almost walked on to KU's team a year earlier, right after graduation from LHS.
"Coach Self talked to me a little bit at the end of my senior year of high school. He said if I went away a year, to juco, after Stephen left there could be a chance of me walking on," Bechard said. "I talked to him during the middle of my junior-college season and coach gave me the opportunity. Obviously, I took it."
Bechard until recently hadn't told anybody about his impending status as a Jayhawk.
"I've known awhile, since the last month of the season," Bechard said. "It's been tough not telling anybody. They know now. I'm excited about starting summer school and getting to work out with the players in a week or so."
Bechard has played pick-up with the Jayhawks in the past.
"My talent level is not near what theirs is," he said of KU's scholarship players. "I think if I play hard I can hold my own."
His high school coach agrees.
"If they are looking for perimeter play : if teams are playing zone, it would give him a chance to play," Davis said. "Much like Stephen (Vinson), he'll have to earn his time and do all the right things. He's the type of person and player who will do that."
As far as comparing Vinson (another former Davis player) to Bechard, Davis said: "Stephen was much more at the point and taking charge of things and directing. Brennan is more a catch-and-shoot scorer who can find openings."
Bechard will have three years of eligibility at KU.
As a walk-on, he will not count against the scholarship limit of 13. He is not opposed to the possibility of red-shirting and playing at KU four seasons.
"I will do whatever coach thinks is best. If coach threw that out there definitely I would think about it," Bechard said.
Self cannot comment about unsigned players until they enroll for college.