HOYT (KSNT)- Nahcs Wahwassuck is the all-time leader in points and assists in Royal Valley school history.

After a stellar junior year, Wahwassuck was recruited by and invited to play for Link Prep Academy in Branson, Missouri. The opportunity seemed too good to pass up.

“Being from a small school where I’m not really recruited or getting that much publicity, and going to a school that plays on ESPN, that’s huge man,” Wahwassuck said.

So, he packed his bags and moved to Branson to join Link Academy.

“He’s always had bigger dreams to play basketball at the highest level that he can, so we felt that the opportunity to attend the academy was a good opportunity for him to pursue,” Raphael Wahwassuck, Nahcs’ father, said.

After a sickness, an injury and a couple months away from home, his parents noticed something wasn’t right.

“We had some concerns because just some of the way he was talking didn’t quite sound like himself,” Raphael Wahwassuck said.

Wahwassuck found himself struggling, not on the basketball court, but with his mental health.

“It just got to the point where I wouldn’t want to do anything during the day,” Wahwassuck said. “I would just be really down on myself, kind of for no reason.”

He made the decision to return home, leaving behind an opportunity to put his own well-being first. He’s thankful he realized the severity of his struggles.

“It could make you do something that could make you not be on earth anymore,” Wahwassuck said. “I don’t want that for anyone. Everyone deserves to live a happy life. You shouldn’t live life miserable.”

Due to KSHSAA eligibility rules, he wasn’t even sure if he would be able to play his senior season.

“That didn’t really matter to me,” Wahwassuck said. “I just wanted to be home with my people and be comfortable again, and just be able to be happy living every day life, even if it was without basketball.”

For the first time in his life, basketball had taken the back seat.

“It showed how important it was to him that he was willing to take that risk, if he wasn’t able to play, just to be here with the people that he knew would support him,” Chris Brown, Royal Valley varsity boys basketball coach, said.

The coaches and players were more than happy to welcome Wahwassuck back to the team, and were willing to support him in whatever decision he made, Brown added. Unfortunately, Wahwassuck had to watch the first five games of the season from the sidelines. When he was finally cleared to play, he was back on the court as fast as possible.

“When they said yes it was just a huge relief off my shoulders,” Wahwassuck said. “I didn’t know how to feel, so I came to the gym and got shots up. Basketball, man, it’s taken me a lot of places and I’m just super thankful that I can play this game again.”

He’s hoping that other people can learn from his story.

“Life can be taken from you any second of the day,” he said. “Live happy. That’s the best way to live. If you’re feeling unsure of yourself, don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Just know that it’s fine to not be fine.”

The Panthers are 13-0 to start the year and one of the top 3A teams in the state. Wahwassuck’s recruitment is still open.