You get what you put in.
It's no different at East Lincoln High, where standout senior guard Kendall Bethea has taken a team under his wing and is ready to do whatever it takes to get the Mustangs a 2A state championship.
Bethea, who stands at 6-foot-3, is humble. His mind is set on putting in the time to make himself and his teammates better. He believes that if he's working harder than the guy across from him, than good things are going to happen.
"Honestly, I want to win a state championship," Bethea said. "I'm pretty sure we can do it, but we have some improving to do and it's going to take a lot of hard work."
Bethea has been playing basketball since he was just 3 years old, right around the time he moved to Denver from Connecticut.
As the only returning starter on a team that has had four straight 20-win seasons, Bethea is being asked to carry the load for the Mustangs.
"He runs the offense, and we also expect him to score," East Lincoln head coach Neil Hodges said. "[It's] a tough job, but the only real pressure he feels in self-induced. I think it's a good thing because he wants to be a good player."
The 17-year-old says that his love for the game comes natural. It's not so much work for him, as it is an outlet that provides him with a rewarding feeling.
"It's in my blood," he said. "Basketball's just what I'm born to do. I love what I get back from all the hard work I put into it."
The Mustangs headed into conference play last week with an unblemished record (through Dec. 10). While Bethea and Hodges both agree that the team has some improving to do, they feel good about the direction this season is heading.
"I'm just trying to work on my leadership skills and show these young guys what it takes to play at the varsity level," Bethea said. "Coach tells me that if guys get lost and don't know where their spots are on the court, that I should pull them to the side and tell them what's happening."
"(Kendall's) a kid that develops and works on his game year round," Hodges said. "I think the other guys see that, and I think the younger kids certainly respect his ability on the court. It's still early, and we don't have all of our stuff in. We're going to try and really get on a roll by the end of January."
With a young, yet talented team around him, Bethea has certainly handled his expectations from himself and his coach well. He was an all-conference player last season as a junior.
Bethea is on track to earn that honor again, averaging 18.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists through his team's first seven games this season.
"All of that stuff will come at the end of the year and hopefully he can add to some of those accolades," Hodges said. "I expected him to work hard, distribute the ball and score."
With the kind of dedication Bethea has shown to his sport and his team, don't be surprised to see this kid smiling when all that hard work pays off at the end of the season.