Manhattan Michael Beasley was 11 years old when he walked into a tryout for an AAU team that featured future college and NBA star Kevin Durant.
Neither paid much attention to the other.
But not long after that initial encounter, the two players started realizing how much they had in common. They quickly became friends and started hanging out, spending most of their time at each other's homes.
Life after AAU hasn't broken the bond. Even today, with Durant in Seattle playing for the NBA's Sonics and Beasley in tiny Manhattan starring for Kansas State, the friends keep in touch, calling or text messaging each other several times a week.
"It was just one of those things that happened," Beasley said. "We just clicked."
Now the two best friends have another link: Beasley became the second freshman to be named the Associated Press Big 12 player of the year, following the precedent set by his buddy Durant year ago.
Beasley was a near-unanimous selection, receiving 17 of 19 first-place votes - Texas guard D.J. Augustin received the other two - and, predictably, also took freshman of the year honors. Missouri's DeMarre Carroll was named Big 12 newcomer of the year.
Beasley ended that line of thinking quickly, putting together a season that, in some ways, was better than Durant's.
The 6-foot-10 forward had 32 points and a Big 12-record 24 rebounds in his first game and never really slowed. Beasley set one NCAA record, 13 Big 12 records and broke or tied 27 school records. His 26.5 points-per-game averaged is on pace to break the Big 12 record, and he's within reach of 10 more conference records.