November 24, 2014

Hansen to the border

Kevin McCarthy

Chris Hansen is heading to UC San Diego not to catch predators but on a basketball scholarship. Granted, his signing doesn't carry the gravitas in the media of say a blue-chipper heading to Kentucky or Duke but his is an interesting tale because the Campolindo High senior is a young man all about putting others first, a not-often-found quality in our narcissistic me-me-me world.

photo of Chris Hansen

Here's Campolindo High Coach Matt Watson on Hansen, a 6-foot-7, 250 pound versatile talent who is the reigning Most Valuable Player in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League: “They (UC San Diego basketball) are getting a steal with him. Chris is a one-in-a-million kind of kid, just so unselfish and, to use an old phrase, the kind of kid you would invite to Sunday dinner.”

As to the on the court Hansen, Watson offered, “He's an accomplished three point shooter, a 20/20 guy who had some monster games for us. He took the sixth most shots on the team but led us in scoring and field goal percentage.”

One highlight last season was posting a 31 point, 20 rebound line against Sacred Heart Cathedral last season.

So why the Tritons in San Diego?

Hansen offered a handful of reasons, “It's a great academic school in a great location, all the players were friendly and seemed like my kind of guys academically and socially, and I can play early in a good league.”

There will certainly be numerous opportunities for family and friends to see him play what with Cal State Stanislaus, Chico State, Cal State East Bay, Humboldt State, San Francisco State and Sonoma State as fellow California Conference Athletic Association members.

Hansen took an unofficial visit to UC San Diego in the summer and then formally tripped in mid-October. The latter brought him an offer. After mulling over matters, “I called back a couple of weeks later and accepted,” Hansen recalled.

What's fascinating is that until last summer, Hansen didn't play club ball but participated in activities with his high school team. It was by choice. Watson said, “I actually forced him to play [AAU]. He knows playing on an AAU team doesn't get a high school team better and he's all about the team. He wanted us to get better. That's a very refreshing attitude, like getting a B12 shot.”

Hansen offered, “It's one of my favorite parts of the season. You get to act as a role model to the younger guys and show them how it's done.” He added, “I wanted a break before jumping into another season.”

According to Watson, Hansen's recruiting was light early on. But as a member of the Lakeshow squad, he began receiving more attention. “UC Davis, Wyoming, Gonzaga and the Ivys all liked him.”

According to Hansen, Gonzaga reached out to him and asked for tapes.

“DI or DII, either one is fine with me” was Hansen's guiding mantra. A critical goal was to be at one of the top academic institutions.

Illustrating the degree to which Hansen has worked to reach where he is today requires looking at his work in lifting iron. Here's Watson again: “Chris couldn't lift a 45 pound bar when he came here and now he's at 300. He's worked his ass off in the weightroom and with conditioning and footwork.”

Hansen cites his grandfather, now deceased, as his greatest basketball influence. "My grandpa and grandma came to my games since I was little, I loved having them there.” His grandfather was a rather vociferous supporter and, at one point, Hansen had his mother intercede in order to get matters toned down a bit.

Asked what has been his best basketball moment, Hansen responded, “I had a couple of dunks when we went to the Nor Cal semifinals two years ago. My whole family was there and everybody was having fun.”

The Bay Area and its surroundings are not new territory for UC San Diego. Two other talents, guard Grant Jackson out of Monte Vista High and Turlock High's Kenny Fraser, are freshmen on this year's team.

Now add Hansen to the mix.