Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From Walk-on to Starter

By Drew Weber

ETSU sophomore guard Chandler Christopher knows the value of hard work and the opportunities it can present.

The Greeneville High School product from nearby Greeneville, Tenn., compiled an impressive high school career with more than 1,000 points scored and secured all-region honors in each of her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

When it came time to choose where she would continue her basketball talents at the collegiate level, the east Tennessee native chose to stay true to her roots and accepted a walk-on position at ETSU.

Playing in 12 games as a freshman walk-on in 2012-13, Christopher could routinely be spotted diving for loose balls and battling inside against the bigs for tough rebounds. In a limited 5.5 minutes per game throughout the season, the guard played with heart and left it all on the floor.

On first-year ETSU head coach Brittney Ezell’s second day in the office in May 2013, Christopher approached Ezell in business attire with résumé in hand stating her desire to be a scholarship player. After reviewing tape of the guard and noticing the qualities she possesses, Ezell elevated Christopher from walk-on to scholarship status over the summer.

It did not take long for Ezell to notice the toughness and intangibles the sophomore possesses.

“Chandler has definitely earned her keep as a scholarship player for us,” said Ezell. “She is the epitome of what our program is, and will continue to be, built on – teamwork and a blue-collar work ethic.”

To begin the 2013-14 season, the sophomore has quickly embraced her role and has been a vital piece for the Bucs. Christopher has started in each game this season and has taken advantage of the increased playing time with huge contributions to the team.

Christopher can still be found doing the dirty work that is not highlighted in the stat sheet like taking charges and throwing her body around, but the 5-foot-8 guard’s offensive game has also expanded.

Through the first four games this year, Christopher averaged 10.5 points per game and she remains a viable threat on offense for opposing defenses. The sophomore’s evolution from a bench player to a starter is not yet complete, but the strides she has made are clearly evident to her head coach.

“She is still growing into her role on the team, “ said Ezell. “Chandler has experienced some growing pains, but she is continuing to gain more confidence with each game.”

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