By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
FAUCETT - Braydn Kemper has been around basketball basically his whole life.
His father, Bryce, has been a huge part of that experience.
A Mid-Buchanan graduate in 2016, Braydn played basketball for his dad and was part of a team that took second at state in 2015. He went on to score 1,191 points in his varsity career, earning all-state and all-conference honors.
After playing a couple years collegiately for the University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Braydn came home to pursue both teaching and coaching opportunities.
He's spent the last two years as an assistant coach for Mid-Buchanan, helping his dad lead the Dragons to back-to-back district titles.
"It was just special," Braydn said. "Getting to celebrate with him. Just being able to work him, too. He's a tremendous coach. Arguably one of the best in the area. It's been a great learning experience for me. I've known I've wanted to be a coach for a long time. When you get to coach with somebody, you get to be a part of the whole process."
After those two years, Kemper knew he was ready to lead a program of his own. Lo and behold, North Platte was looking for a math teacher and boys' basketball coach. Bryce told his son about the job opening, and things were in motion from that point on.
"It was just an awesome opportunity," Braydn said. "Just a small school, which I'm used to and something I was looking to find. A small school kind of like Mid-Buchanan, and I think North Platte is like Mid-Buchanan in a lot of ways. A small community, and everyone kind of backs the school. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
Indeed, only 7.5 miles separate Faucett and Dearborn, as both Mid-Buchanan and North Platte are members of the KCI Conference. Braydn's chance to coach against his dad will come quickly.
The two teams will meet in the KCI Conference on December 17 at North Platte High School.
"I know a little insider information about how (my dad) prepares," Braydn joked. "So, that might help me come December."
More broadly, Kemper is excited to help North Platte take a step forward after the Panthers finished 3-15 in 2020-21.
North Platte returns 14 players from its current roster, and will look to achieve its first winning season since 2016. The last district title came in 2011.
Braydn is 23, making him one of the youngest head coaches in the area. Getting North Platte to the level where Mid-Buchanan is will take some time.
But, Kemper feels ready to lead a program, and the players feel ready to help him bring it up a notch.
"They are hungry to turn this thing around," Kemper said. "We just have to put in the work. They have some good junior high kids coming up. Working with the community so far has been really cool. I've had people reach out to me, congratulate me and welcome me."
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.