RCW: Following in Crimson and Blue Footsteps
Watch Chris Teahan play this season inside Allen Fieldhouse!
Freshman Chris Teahan is in his first season as a walk-on for the Kansas men’s basketball team. What makes him different than most walk-ons for the Jayhawks is that Chris grew up watching another walk-on, his older brother Conner, who played for Kansas from 2008-11.
Raised in nearby Kansas City, Conner and Chris grew up as die-hard Kansas basketball fans.
“I was a huge KU basketball fan and then obviously my playing basketball impacted my younger brother and the rest of my family,” Conner said. “But we were always raised as Jayhawks.”
Chris agreed to his older brother’s claim in how the Teahan family were always Kansas fans, but Conner joining the team pushed his family to become die-hard fans.
“My brother Conner definitely loved KU basketball,” said Chris. “We were always fans but we were never die-hard fans like we were when Conner and I came to KU.”
For Chris to be able to watch his older brother Conner’s journey through his Kansas career truly helped him realize his goal to play basketball at Kansas just as Conner did.
“Conner played a big part of it,” Chris said of his brother’s impact of him wanting to go to KU. “I saw the atmosphere and everything like that and I realized this is the only place I wanted to play. This is my dream.”
Conner does not believe he was the sole contributor in Chris’ decision to continue his basketball career in Lawrence. As is with any fan who loves college basketball, it is easy to see how someone such as Chris would choose Kansas.
“I think I definitely introduced him to Allen Fieldhouse and the environment,” Conner said. “But I think anybody who has been to a game in Allen Fieldhouse and liked the sport of basketball would have been inclined to play there. I think I definitely influenced him, but I was not the only reason why he considered it.”
Conner also had a huge impact on the growth and development in Chris’ athletic career. As the younger brother, Chris looked up to Conner and always worked to emulate his brother’s success.
“I was always watching him play here in Lawrence, and it pushed me to be the best that I could be,” Chris said. “As soon as he graduated he came to all of my games and would critique it. He knew exactly what people in college would be looking for and he sat there and told me what I needed to improve on.”
Conner laughed when asked how he impacted his brother’s athletic talent. Instead of giving himself credit for his brother looking up to him as an athlete for his favorite basketball team, Conner credited the environment his parents provided for him and Chris.
“I think (I’m) not as big of an impact as I would have liked to think,” said Conner. “A great deal of it has to do with his own hard work and the environment we were raised in: as kids (in) a very athletic, sports-oriented environment. My parents definitely instilled that type of environment and he just kind of took it and worked hard.”
The relationship between Kansas basketball head coach Bill Self and the Teahan family has been a great one since Conner joined the team in 2008 and continues to be a good relationship today. Being interactive with Self was important to both of Conner and Chris’ parents.
“My mom was definitely trying to be involved in the relationship between Conner and Coach Self,” said Chris. “My mom was always trying to talk to Coach Self. They had a good relationship and there were no problems. I think they are friends and that they would consider themselves friends.”
Conner agreed with Chris on his views of his family’s friendship with Coach Self, and on how the relationship has continued to be strong in the time between Conner and Chris’ playing years.
“I believe it was a very good relationship,” said Conner. “My family always loved Coach Self and (we) always have had a lot of respect for the man and still have a lot of respect for him, so I would say overall it was a very good relationship. My mom and dad and Coach Self are friends.”
Chris’ relationship with Self has drastically changed over the years. The 6-foot-4, 175 pound freshman guard went from being the little brother of his former player to now having the same player/coach relationship as Conner once had with him.
“I was much younger when I was sitting there with Conner, so I was intimidated by Coach Self, but now that I am up here he is a great dude,” said Chris. “He is a great coach. He is just so smart that you sit there in awe sometimes in practice, He will say some stuff where you say, ‘I have never thought of basketball like that.'”
One of the most impactful moments in Chris’ athletic career came during a sit-down conversation with Conner. Chris was contemplating between the decision to play football or come to Kansas to play basketball. Conner did not tell Chris what to do, but instead explained how meaningful playing basketball at Kansas meant to him.
“Playing basketball at KU was the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” Conner recalled telling his younger brother. “It completely changed my life. There are days where it is going to suck, but you will sit there and realize how big of a blessing it was to be here.”
Listening to Conner explain how much playing at Kansas meant to him, Chris made the decision to follow in his brother’s footsteps and come to Kansas. Knowing how difficult it can be to start your first year of college and be a member of the Kansas basketball team at the same time, Conner enlisted the help of Brady Morningstar, a former teammate, to help train his brother.
“I actually introduced him to a couple of the guys I used to play with, one being Brady Morningstar,” Conner said. “Brady used to work him out last year and was a big reason as to why he made it on the team. Brady saw talent and ability within him (Chris) and told Coach Self, ‘Chris was a guy you cannot pass up on.'”
Becoming physically prepared with former Kansas players was one aspect making Chris’ transition to Division I basketball easier, but there was also the mental aspect.
“Morningstar helped Chris in not only getting physically prepared through workouts with guys I had played with, but he also mentally prepared Chris for what would be a very tough time in terms of Boot Camp and going in early in the summer and leaving your friends right after you graduate high school,” Conner said.
Along with helping Chris by asking former teammates for their assistance, Conner wanted to give Chris an idea of his own experiences in his first year at Kansas.
“Conner told me I would have to work hard every single day,” said Chris. “No matter what happens, it’s a process; it’s not just a one-day thing. If you have one bad day in practice it’s okay because you still have four more years left. I took that to heart and I think about that all the time.”
In recalling his brother’s pep talk, Chris went on to explain. “Conner said it was a process, you cannot let one bad day or one bad week affect your outlook on how you play. Do not get down on yourself, you have four years to improve yourself. If you do not play in your first two years, or your third year, you still have another year to go out and just work hard.”
The start of Chris’ career with the Kansas basketball team has been better and more challenging than he expected.
“There are definitely some days where I will kind of sit there and I will wake up at nine and go to class or tutoring or whatever I have,” Chris said. “If I leave my dorm at 8:30 (a.m.) I will get back at 7:50 (p.m.) and I will have two or three hours of homework. It is one of those things that is just exhausting. At the same time, I love it. I would never change it because I am living out my dream every time I am stepping out on that court in Allen Fieldhouse. When you watch the pregame video it reminds you that everything you put yourself through is worth it.”
Conner has been closely watching Kansas basketball this year and has noticed the improvement of Chris’ level of play throughout his freshman season.
“I would characterize his first six months as very exciting for me as a brother,” said Conner. “I am very excited to see him go out there and live his dream. (It was) A dream I got to experience myself as well, but I have seen him, in terms of talent or skill-wise, change. It looks like he has gotten better at understanding the angles of the game, understanding the physicality and improving his overall skill. Although he has looked like for the most part a 3-point shooter, I think he has developed a lot of areas in his game he otherwise had not.”
While Chris’ career has just begun Conner ended his Kansas basketball career being one of the first players off the bench in his senior season and was also an impact player of the Final Four team in 2012. Conner and Chris agree many things need to fall into place throughout the next three years for Chris, but both believe Chris can end up in the same spot Conner did by the end of his collegiate career.
“Yes, I definitely do,” Conner said. “There is a lot of fortune that comes along with it, but I think Chris has all the tools that are necessary for him to be a player that can make an impact on the court in meaningful minutes for KU. I do think there are some things that need to fall into place to make that happen, but he definitely has everything that is necessary to be a contributor to the Kansas basketball program.”
Chris agreed with his older brother and wants his career to have the same, or potentially a bigger role, with the Kansas basketball team than Conner had.
“I would never sell myself short saying I was just going to be a walk-on for four years,” Chris said. “I am definitely trying hard to get myself on the court. If it takes me all the way to my senior year, then fine. But if my number gets called sooner, then I will definitely be ready.”