Delvon Rencher was one of only two players back from last year's Dodge City Conquistadors men's basketball team.
It has given Rencher a new role as leader on the Conqs, one that he alone must show all of the players for this year's team what is expected of him.
"I had talked to Coach (Kyle) Campbell on the phone and he said this would be my team going into the season coming in," Rencher said. "He was expecting me to come back and be a leader.
"I'm not going to lie that it has affected the way I play, but these guys are like my brothers. We have a good team and the coach stays on me, but I like the pressure situation."
Rencher was injured with back and foot injuries and was limited to his ability on the court, but has started to be more of a factor for the 7-1 Conqs. Rencher scored 18 points in both games of the Conq Classic last week.
"I have had a couple of injuries at the beginning of the season, but I'm good now and doing everything I have to do to win," Rencher said. "I have told the guys that this is a long season and there are going to be ups and downs; but that if we continue to play hard and play defense, then I don't think anybody should beat us."
Campbell said having Rencher on the squad playing as hard as he has despite the injury has been a positive influence on the floor.
"I'd say he was 65 to 70 percent healthy right now and we're just hoping to get to Thanksgiving break where he can just rest," Campbell said. "He's a guy who averaged 12 (points) and six (rebounds) and the only guy coming back for us last year.
"He's a good leader for us and he's teaching these guys what it takes to win in Kansas. He's just a good kid and I love coaching him and love him as a person. He's got a chance to be one of the top two players in the conference when he gets healthy. He's got a lot of potential."
Rencher said that likes this squad has meshed better than last year's squad that went 14-17, and that has helped with the team winning seven of its first eight games: including two one-point wins in the Conq Classic.
"We are all of a family," Rencher said. "Of course brothers are going to fight, but I know we can trust each other in this group to get the win in the game.
"We couldn't win the close games last year; but with the closeness, we are excited about things and can be one of the toughest teams in the country."