BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Hit the books, or hit the court? Some might struggle to answer that one. But a trio of seniors at Belvidere North have shown what’s possible beyond the arc.

It’s definitely rare a team gets both. Both athletes and scholars that is.

“Being a student-athlete isn’t easy, but it’s definitely possible and as long as you stay on top of your work, you can focus on both,” said Belvidere North senior Spencer Kohls.

But the Belvidere North boys basketball program led by head coach Todd Brannan has three senior athletes who’ve found a way to do it all.

“I’m super excited for these guys, they deserve all that recognition because they’ve put in a lot of work,” said coach Brannan.

Ethan Andre, Nick Winters, and Spencer Kohls got a bit of an early Christmas present this year.

“There weren’t that many in the school that got it, so I thought it was pretty cool to be called down and receive that little paper,” said Kohls.

For guys who take their academics so seriously, this honor was memorable.

“It means a lot. It takes a lot of hard work and effort put into the classroom, definitely that comes first before everything,” said Winters.

They were named Illinois State Scholars which means they are in the top 10 percent of the state academically. They all hold 4.0 GPA’s.

“I really pride myself on academics, just try to get smarter every day, just try to be a lifelong learner,” said Andre.

Not only have these three done it, but last year the team received the title of All-State Academic Team from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.

“It’s incredible,” said coach Brannan. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but very rarely do we have to worry about academic eligibility on a weekly basis.”

Something that isn’t lost on these three seniors.

“I just think it’s really cool that we can do both sports and school and excel at both,” said Kohls.

Not only do they excel at both, but there are leaders in both respects which is something pretty special.

“Yeah, it’s definitely pretty important to the three seniors that have it,” said Andre.

They are role models for kids of all ages, but especially those who come through the Blue Thunder basketball program.

“Yeah, it’s really cool to not really be looked up to but to be the guy, like a role model almost and just to be there to show underclassmen that you can really do anything,” said Kohls smiling.

But of course, it doesn’t come without its fun. Especially for three guys like this who spend some much time together.

“Yeah,” said Nick Winters chuckling. “We mess with each other a lot.”

We are thinking about coining these three ‘The Brainiacs of Belvidere North,’ we are still testing out the name though. But Nick and Ethan both seem to agree on one thing.

“You know Spencer is the one who, he’s the genius out of us,” said Winters laughing. “He’s got the real smarts, he’s just really smart.”

I told Spencer this, and it would seem that’s the consensus. He studies maybe just a bit more.

“Yeah, I guess I’d agree with that,” Kohls said laughing.

All jokes aside though, these are three of Belvidere North’s smartest and most hardworking kids. They continue to show those who come through the program, what is possible beyond the basketball court. And for coach Brannan, he’s just happy to be along for the ride.

“You know it’s really cool to be a small part of that, but I’m so happy for these guys, they deserve the recognition. It’s not easy to get the grades that they’ve gotten, and they are kind of getting those benefits and those rewards right now.”