Basketball star dons cap and gown

    As senior Nick Christenson is about to embark on a new life outside college, he leaves behind a legacy on and off the basketball court. Christenson is more than the MVP of the Triton basketball team — he is the epitome of the student athlete.

    Christenson came to UCSD four years ago not just to play basketball, but also because the school offered more than just athletics.

    “”I came to UCSD because of the great reputation it has academically,”” he said. “”UCSD also gave me the best chance of playing college basketball, which was one of my goals coming out of high school.””

    Christenson is an economics major and proved he could succeed in class as well as on the court, receiving the Lee W. Gardner award his junior year for the best GPA on the team.

    Christenson racked up some impressive honors on the court as well. His junior and senior year, Christenson won both the MVP award and the Defensive Player of the Year.

    Coach Greg Lanthier expounded on Christenson’s value to the team.

    “”Nick has done a wonderful job for us. He has provided us with stability in rough times,”” he said. “”He is the kind of player that you tell other players to just do what Nick does. Practice and play the way he does.””

    Christenson takes with him many great memories, but a few stick out the most in his mind.

    “”One memory that really sticks out for me is when we were still in Division III and we went to the Masters College in Santa Clarita and beat them on a last-second tip,”” he said. “”The other would have to be when we upset Cal Poly Pomona last year.””

    At 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs., Christenson was not the tallest or the biggest guy on the court, but he was able to always play to the best of his abilities.

    “”Nick got as much out of his physical skills as anyone to ever to play at UCSD,”” Lanthier said. “”He was tenacious and he was tough.””

    When the team moved to Division II basketball for the 2001-2002 season, the physical nature of the opponents may have increased, but Christenson still averaged more than 10 points per game for his final two seasons.

    “”As we moved up to Division II, the size and strength was the biggest difference, but we were able to handle it well as a team and this program will continue to get better as they get more experienced,”” Christenson said.

    Next year’s team will sorely miss Christenson’s abilities, Lanthier said.

    “”You can’t replace a player like Nick,”” he said. “”We can all learn from him. I will always remember Nick as always dependable, always consistent and always steady.””

    Christenson now has his sights set on new goals.

    “”Like most people, I am still uncertain about the future. I know that I eventually want to go to business school and do something like sports marketing,”” he said.

    However, what is certain is that Christenson had a special career at UCSD and the men’s basketball team will be sorely pressed to find another like him.

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