When I first saw Chris Avenant play I was at the “Hoops for the Homeless Family Classic” basketball tournament in Sacramento.
Chris, a 6-5, 183-pound shooting guard, is a junior that plays basketball for Sacramento High School. He made an impression on me, and it wasn’t just the awesome dunk he made. So when Sacramento High School made it to the State Championships at Arco Arena, I focused on the team and the components that made them successful in achieving that goal. Avenant was definitely a strong component in the supporting cast of characters that lead Sacramento High down the road to Arco. Here’s my interview with him after the game.
I asked him some standard questions .. then some of my own.. I hope you enjoy the interview and take a look at this young man who will most definitely light up the HS basketball scene next season.
1.) Which school’s are calling you and/or visited your high school?
Because Sac High has such a strong basketball program and top recruits like Chase Tapley we are lucky to get visits from many colleges like UC Davis, San Diego State, and Cal Berkeley. I have received some initial interest letters from a few colleges like Yale, Penn, Lutheran, and Riverside. With this being my 1st season of Varsity basketball and AAU I have some ground to make up.
2.) Any Scholarship offers?
3.) Any visits scheduled (official or unofficial) to colleges?
We are in the process of planning
4.) Which Schools are your favorites? Why? Have you narrowed your choices?
I am most interested in schools with strong business programs. UPenn would be great but I am also looking at other schools like Colorado, U Mass, and any other schools with a good business program.
5.) Do you prefer being close to home?
Proximity to home is not the key decision factor. I have been fortunate to live on multiple continents (Africa, Europe, America) and travel to many countries. So, I have learned to enjoy new experiences, and meet new people.
6.) GPA and SAT scores
my current GPA is 3.6 and my 1st SAT score was 1550 (with a Math score of 610)
7.) What are you looking for in a college?
I would like college with strong academic program and a diverse student population, and a basketball program, which I will enjoy being apart of.
8.) I understand you grew up overseas – South Africa ? Did you learn to play basketball here ? and how is basketball perceived overseas? –
CA> I was born in Pretoria, South Africa, from there we lived in Germany and Colorado. I did not play basketball (in any form) until 3.5 years ago (middle of 8th grade). I knew nothing about the game when I started playing. I was still playing competitive soccer for a club team. I started playing basketball only because a teacher suggested I give it a try. In my Freshmen year I made the Freshmen team at Del Oro High as a starter and then in my Sophomore year I started to make basketball my main focus. I was captain of the Del Oro JV team, top scorer (15+ PPG) for the season and team MVP (Golden Eagle Award). This year we moved to Sacramento and I got the opportunity to play with Sac High - it was great. Although basketball is played overseas it is not nearly as big as it is in the US
9.) It’s become an international sport – obviously you know how to play basketball .. is it your favorite sport ? if not what is .. ? If so why?
CA> It is absolutely my favorite sport. It is fast, exciting and athletic. Although I watch college basketball and the NBA playoffs from time to time, I prefer to play rather than watch. Sac High has a tough program and you have to work VERY hard, but even so, in my spare time I still like to practice on my own, play in pick-up games etc.
10.) What does “ For the Love of the Game “ mean to you ?
( many athlete’s say they play for the love of the game and then they explain why they love it – i.e. hang out with their friends .. the competition .. etc .. etc ..)
CA> I love being on the court whether we are up by 20 or down by 20 - I just want the chance to play (of course I like it a lot more when we are winning). But most of all I like it when there is a lot at stake and there is some pressure (like in close games or the play-offs). When the crowd is big and engaged I get energized and even more focused. We have a great team at Sac High and there is great chemistry between the players.
11.) Did you enjoy playing at Arco Arena ?
CA> Absolutely. It was like a dream come true. I would have never believed before this year that I would play at Arco 3 times in one month before the end of my Junior year. It was very special when we won the NorCal finals (first time in Sac High's 150 year history). We were all so happy and excited. It was great when we all ran into the stands to hug our family and friends after the game. It meant a lot for us, the school and the community. We are of course disappointed that we did not win the State Championship, but now we are even more committed to winning it next year.
12.) What did you think about Coach Swafford’s interview after the game? ( it was very emotional)
CA> It made the whole team emotional. He is so passionate about the game and cares so much for the players (on and off the court). He was very proud of us. We are very lucky to have him and Coach Earl Allen and Coach Dwight Pruitt. They demand a lot from us and make us work extremely hard, but we know they care about us and want the best for us (not just in basketball).
13.) Do you enjoy playing defense or offense ?
CA> I like both because they BOTH MATTER EQUALLY. We have so many offensive weapons (like Chase Tapley) that in some games I could make a much bigger contribution by focusing more on defense and rebounding. But there is nothing as exciting as a big dunk or tough jumper to help contribute to the team’s victory. It gets the crowd into the game and gets your teammates fired up. But there were also be times when Sac High with it’s smothering defense had the same effect. In the show case camps I am sometimes frustrated that everyone just wants go to the basket and score because I enjoy team play much more. I would rather have a bad game where my team wins, rather than have a great game and end up losing.
14.) I’ve watched you dunk the ball .. do you enjoy doing this .. is it the most efficient way of getting the ball into the hoop at that point in time .. or a little bit of both ?
CA> it might not be the most efficient way but it gets everyone’s adrenaline pumping, gets my team mates pumped up and the crowd going which adds a great boost to your teams morale. It can help change the momentum in the game. I have never missed a dunk in a game in my career because I only attempt to dunk when I know I’m going to make it.
Having played for only 3.5 years I still have a lot to learn and I know I can still improve a lot. I work really hard on and off the court because I want to get better and want to realize my dream of playing college basketball at a good school. No one can ever say that I didn’t work hard. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream to play this game a little longer (playing college hoops). And it no longer becomes a dream, it becomes a goal. But even if things don't work out the way I hope, I will be able to say that I loved every minute of it.