From 1 to 5: Tredyn Christensen's unique growth a boon to BYU basketball

Brigham Young forward Tredyn Christensen (10) puts in a shot as BYU and Saint Mary’s play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. The Gaels won 57-56. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)


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PROVO β€” At one point in his college career, Tredyn Christensen was running the point for Snow College men's basketball team as a 6-foot-6 guard running the floor and getting out in transition for dunk after dunk after dunk with the Badgers.

Just over three years later, the now-listed 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward was backing down then-No. 16 Gonzaga's Drew Timme, pulling down three rebounds and knocking down a free throw in a season-high nine minutes of an 88-81 loss to Gonzaga last week.

What happened in between has provided Christensen, a Westlake High graduate nicknamed "T.C.," with enough material to write a book. But for now, he's just trying to live up to his role as one of 12 new players on the 2022-23 roster, a walk-on, and forthcoming job as first-time father to a baby boy.

"I just do whatever I've got to do; whatever the coaches ask of me, I'm going to go do it," Christensen said. "I just work hard, continue to be ready for each game, and if I get called, then I'll be ready."

It's been a roller coaster of a season for BYU men's basketball, which lost its fifth game of a seven-game stint last week to drop to 16-12 overall and 6-7 in the West Coast Conference.

Unless the Cougars end the year on a three-game win streak, beginning Thursday against Santa Clara (7 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network) and games against No. 17 Saint Mary's and San Francisco, BYU will finish the season at or below .500 in the WCC for the first time since joining the conference in 2011.

But adversity often opens the door for opportunity, and Christensen β€” whose career took him to Ephraim and a year in Hawaii β€” is taking advantage of valuable minutes in BYU's post behind Fousseyni Traore and Atiki Ally Atiki.

A first-team all-state player at Westlake High, Christensen averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game with a propensity to dunk and NJCAA All-Academic third-team honors as a sophomore at Snow in 2020.

He parlayed his JUCO career into an offer from Division II Chaminade, where the high-flying guard transitioned into a forward averaging 5.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 26 games for the Silverswords.

But after a year on the island, where Chaminade would often travel to the mainland for over a week at a time to compete in PacWest Conference play, Christensen and his wife Aliyah β€” the daughter of former BYU running back great Jamaal Willis who is due to give birth to the couple's first child this year β€” felt the call to return home.

An offer to come to BYU in a walk-on role, wearing a green jersey in practice while simulating opponents' post players, arose. And for Christensen, that was all he needed.

"Chaminade was great … It was fun. But it really wasn't my fit," he said. "We came back to Utah to be closer to family, I came here (to BYU) for a visit, and it felt like home.

"Everybody wants to play at BYU, so it was an easy decision."

Playing time can be scarce for walk-ons, and Christensen saw most of his minutes against non-Division I opponents until Jan. 28.

That's when he checked in early in an expanded role behind Traore against then-No. 22 Saint Mary's, and the Gaels didn't know what to do with him. Christensen β€” one of just three subs that night for BYU β€” made his first shot attempt, tipped a couple of rebounds, and even registered a steal in what was then a season-high seven minutes before Saint Mary's rallied for a 57-56 win in the Marriott Center.

Head coach Mark Pope saw potential in those moments from a diverse forward who "has helped us a lot" down the stretch.

"One of the things you look out for in a walk-on when you're adding the final pieces to your roster is guys who can function out on the court and can make every play," Pope said. "They aren't going to be distracted, turn it over, can't handle aggression or physicality.

"His background was super appealing to us, especially with the kind of outside-in approach to transition we're taking. He's had a really interesting road, not just the schools he's attended but also his life and his skillset. It's super unique, to go from the starting point guard to playing the five. There aren't many guys who play both those positions β€” although Atiki is convinced that he can also play the point."

Christensen grew up a point guard, ran the point at Snow, and even played a little point forward at Chaminade before beginning his transition.

So have those instincts ever taken over in his time at BYU, when he's supposed to be strictly a post player β€” either in-game, or on the practice squad?

"I'm pretty big, so I played with my strength and stuff," said Christensen, who played some four and five at Westlake. "It was different, but it was definitely fun. It was a good challenge.

"At the beginning of the year, sometimes I'd have to remember to kick the ball out, to not drive it. But I'm getting used to it now. I'm getting better at it."

How to watch, stream, listen

BYU (16-12, 6-7 WCC) vs. Santa Clara (19-8, 7-5 WCC)

Marriott Center, Provo

  • Tipoff: 7 p.m. MST
  • TV: CBS Sports Network (John Sedak, Mike O'Donnell)
  • Streaming: CBSSports.com
  • Radio: BYU Radio Sirius XM 143, KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM (Greg Wrubell, Mark Durrant)
  • Series: BYU leads, 32-8

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