WICHITA — The Fort Hays State University and Barton Community College basketball programs are mourning the death of Dwayne Brunson, a former FHSU standout who coach Mark Johnson called one of the better Tiger players in recent program history.
Brunson, 27, was the fatal victim of a shooting at a north Wichita bar on Sunday morning. He played for the Tigers from 2012-14 and was a two-time All-MIAA selection.
“It’s just a complete tragedy,” Johnson told The Hays Daily News on Monday. “You never want to see a young person have this happen to him. Obviously the Fort Hays basketball program and the athletic department send our condolences and thoughts with his family and friends.
“The thing I’ll remember about Dwayne was he was a happy person. In practice or in any surrounding you would see him, he showed up with a smile on his face and was just happy.”
Brunson, a native of Queens, N.Y., joined the Tigers after two years at Barton Community College. The 6-foot-7 forward immediately established himself as one of the top players in the MIAA, earning first-team all-conference honors after averaging a team-high 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in his first season. He helped lead the Tigers to a share of the MIAA regular-season championship as a junior.
“I would say he was one of the best players Fort Hays has had in recent memory,” said Johnson, who just completed his 17th season as Tigers head coach. “He just had an unbelievable ability to put it in the basket. He was a great player and a happy kid. He showed up every day with a big smile on his face. That’s something we’re all going to miss. It’s just a terrible, terrible deal for it to happen and for his family.”
Brunson was a second-team All-MIAA pick as a senior, averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds to help the Tigers reach the NCAA Division II Tournament.
At Barton Community College, Brunson averaged 14.6 points and 8.4 rebounds a game as a freshman and 17.4 points and 10.0 rebounds as a sophomore. He was honorable mention All-Jayhawk Conference West as a freshman and second-team all-conference and all-region as a sophomore.
Johnson recalled a four-game stretch during his senior year where Brunson was averaging around 30 points and 15 rebounds before being slowed by a knee injury.
“He was just a phenomenal player,” Johnson said.
Brunson was residing in Great Bend at the time of his death. A memorial fund to benefit Brunson’s family has been set up through youcaring.com at www.youcaring.com/malloryehrlich-1135821#.Wq_4fhIZjys.
“The Tiger family lost a great one, please reach out and help Dwayne’s family out Tiger basketball fans,” tweeted the FHSU Tiger basketball Twitter account on Monday.