NAIA to the Pros – The Hansel Atencia Story
The Master’s University (California)
I always appreciate when people tag us, or send DM’s on twitter about all things related to NAIA hoops. It helps us to highlight the greatness of this level, and to ensure that we are covering NAIA Hoops from coast to coast. There are some great Sports Information Directors (SIDs) that cover this level of play, and I appreciate them, as they truly are the backbone of promoting their institutions athletic departments. This week, The Master’s University (CA) athletics page (@TMUAthletics) tagged me in a post to help bring attention to Hansel Atencia who signed a pro deal in Iceland. They followed that up with a great article about Hansel which I encourage you all to read here:
“They didn’t let me settle for anything less than what I could do.”
Hansel Atencia reflects on his time at @mastersuniv as he preps for the pros.https://t.co/jvOKLFAnvB— Master’s Athletics (@TMUAthletics) June 25, 2019
Hansel is a great kid, who really competes. For those of you who have seen him play over the last three years, you know that he isn’t very big. However, it doesn’t take long to notice the leadership and competitiveness that the two-time NAIA All-American brings to the floor. Hansel had his shot at NCAA DI, as he signed with Liberty University, after his senior year at Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Virginia. However, things didn’t work out, and after his Freshman year, he was looking for a new place to play.
With three years of eligibility remaining, The Master’s University (TMU) and Coach Kelvin Starr came calling. Hansel knew after talking to the coaching staff that he could have a good relationship with them, which he felt was key for having not only his own success, but also to the success of the team. He also loved how nice everyone at The Master’s was, and the environment that was created on campus. He knew that the people there would keep him accountable in his relationship with God, and he wanted those type of people around him.
Hansel had a lot of great memories from his three years at TMU. While he had a lot of personal success. His favorite moments as a student-athlete came from being a part of a winning program. Hansel said that the team and coaching staff worked hard every day, and it was cool to help be a part of the programs that turned the program around. Hansel joked that winning titles meant they were served some really good meals afterward, but that he also had a lot of fun building memories with his teammates at those meals.
Being born and raised in Colombia also opened up the doors for Hansel to be a part of the Colombian Senior National Team. While he didn’t get to play much in the beginning because he was still pretty young, Hansel took advantage of his situation and learned as much as he could from the coaches and players. He credits their experience with helping his growth as a player. He understood that everything is a process, he trusted that process, and soon was seeing more playing time. That playing experience helped Hansel grow confidence in himself. That confidence allowed him to perform at a high level, and he used the confidence of playing on the Colombian National Team to enhance his play at The Master’s. Raising his own level of play helped him to become a two-time NAIA All-American, and helped TMU become a national power at the NAIA DI level.
Hansel is forever thankful for his time playing NAIA basketball. The competition at this level is something he will miss the most. He believes that people really think that playing at this level is easy just because it’s not D1, but that ultimately there is a ton of really talented players in NAIA, and he really enjoyed going out and competing every night against them. Hansel said that they helped to push him to get better every day.
After his playing career is over, Hansel hopes to go back to his home country of Colombia and invest in kids who want to be successful, but don’t have the resources to do it. Hansel believes that Colombia is full of talented basketball players, but people around the world don’t always get to see it. He wants to be able to help build a platform that will help to showcase the talent in Colombia more.
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