St. Mary's Colgan senior Dyson Dechant signed his letter of intent Wednesday afternoon to play basketball at Baker University (NAIA).
"It's a very exciting feeling," Dechant said. "It's something I've dreamed about my whole life and I'm just really glad the opportunities have opened up for me to be able to continue playing."
Dechant became one of the premier players in the area his junior and senior years, receiving All-State recognition from every major state newspaper, All-League first team and All-County honors both seasons.
No. 44 finished his senior year with 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Dechant averaged 16.3 points and 6.2 rebounds his junior year.
"It's always a privilege for us coaches when one of our players goes on to the next level," Colgan head coach Wayne Cichon said. "Dyson has been our leading scorer the last two years and leading rebounder the last two years. We're going to be missing a lot of points and rebounds but we're also pleased that he is able to make that step to the next level. I want to congratulate Susan (Cook) and Dennis (Dechant) and Emily . . . can't forget Emily! She's also very proud of Dyson."
Susan Cook and Dennis Dechant, proud parents, and younger sister Emily Dechant were on hand for the signing in the high school auditorium.
Dechant said he chose Baker due to its academics, the direction of the basketball program and its location in Baldwin City.
"I felt like the people there were really nice," Dechant said. "They were very welcoming and I enjoyed the people when I visited. It wasn't necessarily I didn't like anywhere else, it was just the people there stood out."
Dechant, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, played on both the perimeter and the interior at Colgan. Those versatile skills may come in handy at the next level.
"I definitely need to work on my physicality," Dechant said. "Get stronger, faster and be able to jump better. Ballhandling's going to be huge at the next level. Taking care of the ball, not turning the ball over."
Baker finished the past season 15-14 overall and 8-10 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
Ben Steinlage led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with averages of 14.3 and 6.8. Steinlage was one of seven seniors on the Baker roster — Todd Eils, Jordan Honore, Corey Anderson, Baba Diallo, Kevin Lysaught and Samer Jassar leave behind a young Baker roster.
Baker played Pittsburg State last November, the Gorillas claiming a 88-67 victory. The Wildcats played better in the second half, 48-41, after Pitt State took a 14-point halftime lead.
Dechant believes that being able to play at Colgan under a successful head coach like Cichon will help at the next level.
Page 2 of 2 - "I definitely think so," Dechant said. "The main thing is discipline. We definitely emphasized that and I think being a disciplined player in a disciplined program is going to help me fit in."
Dechant played on three state tournament teams, part of a run of 12 consecutive state appearances for the Colgan boys basketball program.