Travis Hansen, It's time to finally watch him play for BYU | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Travis Hansen, It's time to finally watch him play for BYU

Born the deadline of income tax day on April 15, Travis Hansen's pendulum has ticked slowly, then raced wildly matching his style of play.

Long calendar waits from his mission and eligibility prolonged the arrival of Hansen who committed a year ago to BYU. In the interim, his mom died, he served a mission, he got married and he graduated. Uniquely the 6-6 swingman from Orem is a sophomore having three instead of the usual two years for a junior college transfer.

Because he was affected by Proposition 48 and the NCAA Clearing House, four-year couldn't take him when he graduated from Mountain View High School. BYU, who has a long history of recruiting players from Utah Valley (see story on page 8) wanted Hansen in the fold along with other all-state 5A players the same year as Michael Vranes, Nate Knight and David Nielsen.

"He is a really good athlete and has always been able to run and jump," said Joel Gardner, now athletic director at Mountain View High. "He has worked on parts of his game and is a good defender."

"He has the potential to be a real scorer as he adapts to this level," said BYU Coach Steve Cleveland as to one of the reasons schools recruited Hansen.

Other schools who sought Hansen out of high school included Cal-Berkeley, Washington State, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas State and Utah. Since none could host him, he ended up taking junior college recruiting trips to Ricks, Dixie, Snow, Southern Idaho and nearby Utah Valley State College.

UVSC was a good choice for Hansen out of high school considering it was where he met his future wife and learned basketball better from his coach Jeff Reinert.

"He (Reinert) teaches you to hustle. Before I used to coast and try to get by on my talent," said Hansen.

That hustle landed him in the hospital after he was kneed diving for a loose ball in practice at UVSC.

The injury required therapy which coincided with treatments for his mother's newly-discovered back pain.

"We went to therapy together because she had back pains," said Hansen. "Then we found out by mid-December that she had cancer." His mother, Laurie, 44, followed and cheered for him through the junior college season, then passed away on March 28, 1997, right after the JC conference tournament in Northern Idaho.

In that tournament Hansen helped UVSC upset No. 6 Dixie in overtime, 93-87, with his 21 points and 12 rebounds under the tutelage of assistant coach Nate Call, who is now on the BYU staff. The coach of that Dixie team was BYU associate head coach Dave Rose, who had tried to recruit "tons" out of high school to join the Rebels.

"They (Dixie players) were talking trash to me and I wanted to play hard and 'kill them,' " recalls Hansen, who played point guard that entire game. "I had a couple of good dunks."

A formula for UVSC opponents that season was to double-team future Cougar Silester Rivers, a good friend and roommate of Hansen's. Teams would gang up on Rivers until they learned Hansen made them "pay the price and forced them to play us straight."

Hansen's plan was to play another year for UVSC, but after his mom died, her wish for him to serve a Church mission motivated him to accept a call to Santiago, Chile. He felt his mom's influence while serving the mission. His first companion also stood 6-6, which brought a common question from Chileans.

"How tall are you?"

"Let us in the door and we'll talk about it," was Hansen's reply. Chileans love soccer and Hansen, who played the sport successfully through the ninth grade, fit right in. While his basketball time was limited, he found other ways to work out. He loaded up his suitcases as makeshift weights and tried to do curls.

Meanwhile recruiting mail was piling up at home in Utah, monitored by his father, Scott. Scott only sent words of encouragement to serve in Chile, except for faxes of championship play concerning Travis' high school and JC teams. He also teased his son upon his return about weekly phone calls to Chile after he returned from his mission.

"I love talking in Spanish and wrote or called about once a week," said Hansen.

Hansen had been home from his mission a couple of days before he traveled to California to play in an off-season basketball tournament as he pondered his future. In California he learned two things about his game.

The layoff from his mission caused him to be clumsy on the court, but his Christian conduct affected his playing demeanor. He bumped into other players, then would ask, "are you okay?" When Travis broke the backboard off a "little move" he learned his 37-inch vertical jump was still there and it earned him the nickname "White Chocolate Thunder" at the tournament where teams like New Mexico, Cal-Berkeley, Oregon, Oregon State and BYU lined up.

The fiesty forward had mellowed from scrappy days of pickup games with his identical twin sisters, Heather and Holly, who play now for Mountain View High. Holly, the twin who is "a Tom-boy" usually teams with Travis against Heather, the twin who is "a princess." Holly and Travis team against Heather and another Mountain View product, Erin Thorn, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year last season for the Cougars.

When Hansen wasn't involved in pickup games with his sisters, he was working out on the court or in the weightroom at UVSC with the likes of former Cougars Bryon Ruffner and Robbie Reid. Robbie shared his shooting workouts from the University of Michigan and the Phoenix Suns with Hansen.

Hansen made a decision to pass up his final year at UVSC and wanted to make several recruiting trips to other campuses. His first visit was to BYU where he met former Ute Jeff Judkins, director of Cougar basketball operations.

"I committed right off to BYU," said Hansen. "I thought a lot of Nate Call's opinion."

With that decision out of the way when he signed a year ago last November, the now BYU business major worked towards eventual early graduation last March from UVSC. However, his concentration was distracted also in November by a cute girl who eventually became his wife.

While walking down the hallways at UVSC in his Wolverine uniform she asked if he played basketball. He asked for her phone number. She disappeared in the crowd, after telling him to get her number from a friend.

He learned her name was LaRee Merrell, but couldn't find her. Then he saw her again at lunch in a nearby restaurant and asked her out for a date. Dates included swimming and a trip to Park City. She had gone to rival Orem High School. Now she is an aerobic instructor and his wife. She supervises his situps and workouts at home in preparation for his Cougar career.

Hansen reflects back on his career thus far, paying tribute to days when he starred for his idol coach, Rob Cuff, at MVHS. He thinks of his mother. Travis remembers his dad motivating him for his Eagle Scout project of planting trees. He ponders the future.

Time is still on his side.

History of Utah Valley Recruits

Travis Hansen is the latest BYU basketball player from communities in Utah Valley to wear the Blue and White for the Cougar men's squad.

Local talents in the past like Brett Vroman (Provo to UCLA and UNLV), Steve Pinegar (Provo to Utah State), Chris McMullin (Orem to Utah State), Eric Franson (American Fork to Utah State), Gary Beck (American Fork to Utah State), Clint Bean (American Fork to Wyoming), Jake Shoff (American Fork to Weber State) and Brian Santiago (Provo to Fresno State) have gotten away, but BYU has landed many prep players from Utah Valley.

Among these Utah Valley men who have come to BYU over the years are Mekeli Wesley (Provo), Jake Chrisman (Provo) and Nathan Cooper (Mountain View/Timpview) who are currently on the team with Hansen (Mountain View). Two BYU Utah Valley products are currently on Church missions: Marc Roberts (Timpview, serving in Argentina) and Shawn Opunui (Orem, serving in Carlsbad, Calif.).

Devin Durrant (1979-84) of Provo High may have been one of the most recruited prep signees for BYU from Utah Valley.

Other former BYU players who have come from high schools in Utah Valley include: * Glen Allen, Provo (1938-40)

* Steve Andrus, Timpview (1989-90)

* Greg Ballif, Provo (1978-82)

* Doug Beck, Pleasant Grove (1957)

* Van Burgess, Am. Fork (1953-55)

* Jay Cheesman, Orem (1974-77)

* Larry Cheesman, Orem (1977-78)

* Harold Christensen,BY High(1951-53)

* Randy Clark, Provo (1947-49)

* Stan Collins, BY High (1953)

* Gary Crandall, Springville (1958)

* Dick Dabling, Provo (1946)

* Paul Davis, Provo (1946-47)

* Kent Durrant, Am. Fork (1949-51)

* Mark Durrant, Provo (1990-95)

* Bud Eggertsen, Provo (1940)

* Garth Ford, Provo (1946-47)

* Alan Frampton, Provo (1990)

* Frank Fullmer, Springville (1940-42)

* Max Gardner, Spanish Fork (1940)

* Todd Gentry, Mountain View (1990)

* Floyd Giles, Provo (1941-46)

* Lynn Gleave, Provo (1958)

* John Gustin, Springville (1957-58)

* Don Hansen, Provo (1946-47)

* Jacob Hawkins, Orem (1998-99)

* Russ Hillman, Payson (1949-51)

* Bryan Hofheins, Pl. Grove (1994-96)

* Rags Ingersoll, Am. Fork (1924-29)

* Richard Jones, Span. Fork (1949-51)

* Russ Jones, Provo (1957-58)

* Paul Kitchen, Provo (1956)

* Ron Kump, Provo (1954-56)

* Vance Law, Provo (1975-77)

* Veryl Law, Provo (1974-77)

* Dave Lewis, Provo (1954-56)

* Charles Little, American Fork (1946)

* Matt Lohner, Provo (1995)

* Paul Millar, Pleasant Grove (1963)

* Joe Nelson, Spanish Fork (1947-50)

* Gifford Nielsen, Provo (1974-75)

* Kevin Nielsen, Provo (1978-84)

* Ralph Olsen, Provo (1951)

* Don Overly, Provo (1940-41)

* Ed Pinegar, BY High (1954-56)

* Alan Pollard, Mtn. View (1985-86)

* Carl Pollard, Mountain View (1984)

* Pete Prusse, Provo (1946-47)

* David Reeves, Timpview (1986-87)

* Randy Reid, Spanish Fork (1993-96)

* Robbie Reid, Spanish Fork (1994-95)

* Lynn Rowe, Spanish Fork (1955-57)

* Bryon Ruffner, Timpview (1995-96)

* Kevin Santiago, Provo (1989-90)

* Mark Santiago, Provo (1991-92)

* Doug Smoot, Springville (1953)

* Donald Snow, BY High (1940)

* John Taylor, Spanish Fork (1953)

* Jim Thorn, Springville (1957)

* Paul Thorn, Springville (1929)

* Joe Weight, Provo (1946-49)

* Vern Whatcott, Provo (1949-50)

* Jack Whipple, Provo (1948-50)