By RICK PETERSON
Both Washburn University men's basketball coach Brett Ballard and 6-foot-2 guard Jack Bachelor thought the former Washburn Rural star might be wearing a redshirt during his first season of college basketball.
But Bachelor's strong summer and preseason performance quickly changed those thoughts and Bachelor has quickly cemented his place in Ballard's rotation for the 2-2 Ichabods after scoring 12 points off bench in his college debut.
Entering Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. home non-conference game against Ottawa, Bachelor has played 21.3 minutes per game while averaging 10.3 points and 3.3 assists on 65.2 percent shooting from the field and 85.7 percent from the free throw line.
"We did (consider redshirting him), honestly,'' Ballard said. "We had talked about that being a potential option and Jack has been a pleasant surprise. I knew he'd be good, but I didn't know he'd be this good, this early.
"I thought maybe the biggest challenge would just be athletically, but he's held his own from that standpoint and is heady, high IQ and not afraid.''
Bachelor also thought it might take a while to get on the floor for the Ichabods.
"It was a consideration redshirting, just because I'm not physically the biggest, strongest guy and we have a lot of really good guards, but I decided I wasn't going to,'' he said.
Bachelor, whose father Aaron and mother Angie both played at WU, said he proved to himself in the season-opening pair of games in the Central Region Crossover in Kansas City, Mo. that he could be successful at the Division II level.
"I had an idea that I might play so I was ready to just give whatever I could to the team and when I got in I was ready to go,'' Bachelor said. "I surprised myself a little. I have confidence in myself, but it was a really good two first games and I couldn't ask for more.
"I was talking to my parents and I was like, 'I don't know what my expectations were, but that was really fun.' ''
Bachelor has cracked double figures in three of four games and is coming off a 10-point, five-assist performance in last Saturday's 82-66 win over Rockhurst.
"He loves to compete,'' Ballard said. "You can tell he enjoys being in the gym and likes the competition. I think that part of it gives you a chance to get better every day and gives me confidence as a coach to put him in the game.''
Bachelor said it was a big benefit that he was able to spend a good part of the summer on campus, getting a chance to adjust to the college game while getting to know his future teammates.
"That helped a lot,'' Bachelor said. "In June we had all the guys here in town, so we worked at camps and then would play pickup and get in the weight room, skills work and things like that.
"And just being around the guys and building that chemistry was really, really good. I don't think a lot of D-IIs get that opportunity so I think it helps us a lot.''
Bachelor said his parents didn't push him to attend their alma mater.
"I think they were fine with it because they'd be able to come to a lot of my games and stuff like that,'' Bachelor said. "They obviously went here and were big fans, but they didn't push me at all. They were open to whatever I wanted and whatever my heart felt like, they were just going to go with that.''
And, in the end, Jack said it wasn't a tough decision.
"I was talking to Johnson County a little bit and I talked to Northwest (Missouri) a little bit, but not really too many schools,'' Bachelor said. "Coach Ballard contacted me over the summer after my junior year and we stayed in touch and I always just felt like this was the best place for me. I'm glad I made this choice. I'm loving it here.''
Now Bachelor just wants to continue building off his impressive start to the year.
"I'm obviously going to keep learning,'' he said. "I had more turnovers than I would have liked in that second game so I think I just need to keep learning and watching film and have an open mind to learn stuff.
"I have a lot of older guys and dudes on the team that can help me and that know the game and have been around longer than I have, so I just need to be a sponge and take what the coaches tell me and keep getting better as the season goes on.''