Two MMA postgrad hoops players solidify college futures
WOODSTOCK – Kasper Christiansen, a native of Copenhagen, Denmark, came to the United States two years ago chasing a basketball dream. He’s taking the next step in his journey this week.
Christiansen, who spent this past season playing for Massanutten Military Academy’s postgraduate boys basketball team and head coach Chad Myers, will officially sign with Florida International University later this week. The 6-foot-11 forward celebrated his impending signing during a ceremony in MMA’s gymnasium Wednesday morning alongside teammate Cory Hill, who signed his letter of intent to play with Division II Fayetteville State.
Christiansen, who spent his first year stateside playing basketball in Florida, will soon return to the Sunshine State with the Panthers for the 2017-18 academic year.
“It feels good, man,” Christiansen said. “It’s a big relief and it feels to good to know where I’m gonna spend my next four years and work on my dream.”
Though Christiansen has yet to visit FIU’s Miami campus – he’s planning to take a trip there next month – he said he was sold on the Panthers through his interaction with assistant coach Mike Gillian and the promise of early playing time.
Christiansen said FIU first began showing interest in him shortly after he and the rest of his teammates returned to Massanutten following the holiday break in early January, and he received a scholarship offer from the Panthers sometime later during the season.
He chose FIU over Tulane, the only other program to offer Christiansen a scholarship after the holiday break, he said.
“The fact that I can come in and be a big part of the team right away and not sit on the bench so much,” Christiansen said of one of the Panthers’ biggest selling points. “And the coach, Coach Gillian, the assistant coach, he’s a great guy. He really caught me, really sold the team to me. I fell in love with the school when I looked at it online. The campus is unbelievable. The gym is nice. It’s a big school, I’d like to go to a big school.
“The academics at Tulane were really good and it’s a great school, a great program. But I wasn’t sure how I would fit into the team. That’s why I chose FIU.”
Hill, a 5-foot-10 guard from Richmond, said the allure of early playing time also played a factor in his commitment to Fayetteville State in North Carolina. But it wasn’t the sole reason for his decision.
“It’s an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities), that’s a big-time thing in my family, something that my mom and my dad always wanted me to do. So it was kind of instilled me in from the jump from off of that,” Hill said. “I fell in love with the players and the coaching staff, so that had a big part of it. Really I mean it was what I had and it just so happened I fell in love with it.”
Hill said he chose the Broncos over a couple other Division II programs and around 15 Division III schools that showed interest, adding that they were the best option available to him. He said Fayetteville State coaches had been in contact with him before he began his prep year at MMA this past winter before receiving a scholarship offer around December.
“Coming here, it kind of helped me out a lot, so this moment right now, it’s a sigh of relief because not everybody is fortunate enough to sign. It’s a big (weight) off my back. I’m humbled by it but I’m real happy about it,” Hill said.
“Going from high school, being the star player to coming here where everybody is a star player, it’s a humbling experience. This year I played more being a role player, coming off the bench, sometimes starting – doing the dirty work, doing what I had to do to get on the floor. That really taught me how to be more humble and taught me to be more conservative with the ball.”
Christiansen and Hill are the latest Colonels to solidify their college futures, joining Jamarko Pickett (Ole Miss) and Bud Mack (Manhattan). Myers, who led Massanutten Military Academy to a spot in the National Prep Championship this past winter, said he expects the Colonels to have another handful of college signees – including leading scorer Charles Falden – in the coming weeks.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org