By Michael Hollingshead
Last year he was wearing the blue and white for BYU, but now he”s all decked out in red.
No, Travis Hansen didn”t transfer – heaven forbid any BYU player ever try that again – to the in-state rival, he simply proved he was ready for the next level by being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks.
In fact, Hansen has proved himself so well that last night he earned his first NBA start only 22 games into his rookie season.
One year removed from being the defensive player of the year of the Mountain West Conference, Hansen is getting his minutes facing the likes of Vince Carter, Allen Iverson and All-Hype rookie Lebron James on NBA floors.
The first BYU baller to make it to the NBA since Shawn Bradley in 1993, Hansen said he loves his new life, but it hasn”t been easy.
“This is first class; they take care of you with meals, housing, everything,” Hansen said. “But it”s tough to go from starting every game to sitting on the bench, waiting for my turn.”
Hansen, his wife, LaRee, and his little boy, Ryder, live in Atlanta just five minutes away from Phillips Arena, where the Hawks play their home games.
He said his wife is making friends in their Atlanta ward and she enjoys flying family and friends out to Atlanta for his games.
Interestingly enough, Hansen also admits that he actually has an easier schedule than what he faced as a student athlete at BYU.
Instead of balancing hours of practice, games, schoolwork and time with his family, Hansen is making his 10 mandatory media appearances each month while weathering road trips.
“I think I spend more time with my family than I did in college,” he said. “With Coach Cleveland sometimes we practiced three or four hours a day, but now I only practice for one or two.”
However, his wise father, Scott Hansen, understands that the long and treacherous road trips of a full-length NBA schedule will become tiring as the season goes on.
“You have to realize this is Travis talking 15, 16 games into the season,” Scott said. “A full NBA season is more games than Travis” three years at BYU.”
Scott and Laurie Hansen live in Provo where they enjoy cheering on the latest Hansen saga at BYU: their twin daughters Hollie and Heather who are freshmen on BYU”s womens” basketball team.
The Hansens were obviously thrilled when Travis was drafted, but they are even more excited with the progress he”s been making on the court.
“It”s been awesome, they treat him really well,” Scott said. “They really like Trav, and it”s been a good match.”
Travis agreed that he feels like a great fit with the Atlanta Hawks, but he also said the NBA is much different than college basketball.
When asked how it was playing on the next level, he immediately said “nuts.”
“You”ve got 20-year-old guys with millions of dollars,” Travis said. And how much does a rookie like Hansen make? “Too much,” Hansen said. “I need to go back to living on my $600 a month scholarship.”
Getting drafted not only fulfilled a life-long dream for Hansen, but it also opened a big recruiting door for his former coach Steve Cleveland and BYU”s basketball team.
With Hansen”s close friend Rafael Araujo impressing scouts, BYU”s basketball program is looking to put two players on NBA rosters in consecutive years.
After Araujo came to BYU, Hansen took him under his wing and the two grew closer during the season. This year Travis couldn”t be more pleased with the big man”s progress on the court.
“Travis is so happy for Rafael,” Scott said. “Travis and Rafa are so close. They talk on the phone nearly every day.”
Hansen”s act is definitely tough to follow, but one thing”s for sure: Travis has led the way for the future of BYU basketball.