Humble Start Leads Hansen to Hoop Success

Kelly Pien, News Editor

University of California-San Diego bound basketball center Chris Hansen is the center of attention on the court, as the Cougars’ leading scorer.

According to The Contra Costa Times, the senior had 33 points in a win over Alhambra.

Teammate Sam Smithsaid, “He has a very good work ethic, and he’s a great leader for our team, and keeps all the guys in check from screwing around.” He added, “He was one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever met. He plays big man for our team, but he’s naturally a point guard. He’s very quick, very good at dribbling.”

Hansen started playing when he was 2 years old at CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). He said that “nothing really” made him get into basketball.“I played a lot of sports when I was little. I played little league baseball, soccer, tennis. And then as I got older, I just kind of narrowed it down to basketball. It was kind of the sport I fell in love with. I kept playing,” Hansen said.

Hansen’s basketball beginnings were humble. He said, “We had a small plastic hoop at my old house and I guess I just shot around in that, and my grandpa always came over and helped me out. Just kind of played around with my parents at my house.”

Smith, who has known Hansen for 9 years, since they went to church camp together, began playing basketball with Hansen when they were freshmen. “[He is] very friendly, very huggable, since he’s nice and big. He’s a really good eater. He actually won a hot dog eating contest a couple years ago. It was very funny,” Smith said.

In addition to the CYO team, Hansen has played for the St. Perpetua, Stanley Middle School, and now Campolindo. Next year, he will play for the University of California-San Diego.

The turning point for Hansen was “probably middle school, 6th grade or so. It was my favorite sport. I was on the 6th grade team with all my friends, so it was something that I wanted to pursue now,” he said. “I liked that it was something that all of my friends from St. Perpetua – they’re still on the team there and I like all the guys on the team. I don’t know what my favorite part of basketball is. Probably the team aspect of it, and how it’s not one guy who’s always stepping up, and another guy will come in and help us out.”

Hansen continues to play with friends recreationally. “We always went down to St. Mary’s and play, and we still do,” Smith recalled. “He actually plays this guy Eli, who plays on the college team. He [Hansen] plays really well [against Eli].”

Hansen recalled his start on the varsity team. “I started on JV [Junior Varsity] as a freshman, and I was a starter. For playoffs I was brought up with AZ [Andrew Zolintakis] and we played 2 minutes total in the entire playoffs. And then as a sophomore, I got to start on varsity, and ever since then, I’ve been a starter,” he said. “It [playing on varsity during the playoffs] was a good feeling. It kind of put into my mind that I could play on varsity and as a starter. It kind of gave me confidence, and I think that’s what helped me now.”

Hansen enjoys playing for his high school. “It’s good, there’s kids joking around all the time, and at times they get serious too, because they know we’re such a powerhouse and we kind of do so well annually, and we know that we have to get down to business. Practices can be kind of competitive and kind of serious, and people get mad, and kind of aggressive sometimes, and that’s what kind of brings fun to the team.”

Hansen enjoys contributing to a team. He said a summer club team he played on “wasn’t really my style of basketball. Everyone’s kind of out for themselves, everyone’s kind of looking to get college coaches attention.”

While Hansen does not keep track of professional basketball, he has season tickets to the Stanford home games. “I’m more of a college guy,” he said.

Hansen is “not sure” what his basketball future will be like after college. “I’m focusing on college next, obviously, and hopefully I get to be a starter as a freshman, not quite sure, but I think that’s in the possibility. And after that, I don’t know if my career will end or not.”