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University High’s Tanner Christensen averaged 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds last season. (Courtesy photo)

University’s Tanner Christensen makes oral commitment to Idaho basketball

University senior forward Tanner Christensen will continue his basketball career at Idaho after making an oral commitment to the Division I program over the weekend.

Christensen averaged 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds last season, leading U-Hi to a 9-9 record in the highly competitive Greater Spokane League.

The 6-foot-10 power forward received a scholarship offer from the Vandals on Aug. 31, according to the Twitter account of Christensen’s father Kirt.

The elder Christensen then tweeted news of the commitment on Friday.

Idaho finished 19-14 overall and 12-6 in the Big Sky Conference in the 2016-17 season. The Vandals fell to top-seeded North Dakota in the conference tournament semifinals, then beat Stephen F. Austin in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament before bowing out to Texas State in the second round.

“I like the closeness to home,” Christensen said about why he chose Idaho on Tuesday. “I really liked the coaching staff. All the players had good things to say about the school and program.”

Christensen also cited the chance to play in Division I as a big factor in going with the Vandals, saying the opportunity was “exciting.” He said he also considered Portland State and several Division II programs.

“I think I’ll be able to make an impact as a freshman and sophomore and maybe be a bigger piece (of the plan) as an upperclassman,” Christensen said.

Christensen brings obvious size to the floor, but he said the Vandals want to see him get bigger.

“They want me in the weight room so I can play more physical and adjust to the faster pace in college,” Christensen said.

U-Hi coach Garrick Phillips said Christensen’s size is a factor at the high school level, but his build is quickly improving.

“Tanner’s biggest improvement over the past six to eight months is his physical strength.” Phillips said on Tuesday. “His feet have caught up to his body.”

Phillips also noted Christensen’s acumen and situational awareness as key to his game.

“It’s just a joy to coach him,” Phillips said. “He’s obviously a very smart kid, but not just book smart – he can think on the fly.

“I only have to tell him once and he does it.”

Before Christensen heads to Moscow, he still has his senior year at U-Hi to prove things. Practice for the upcoming season starts the second week of November.

“I think we’re going to be really good,” Christensen said. “We’ve got five seniors coming back and some good juniors coming up who will contribute a bunch, so I think we’ll do really well.”

About his upcoming roster, Phillips said wins and losses aside he really enjoys this group of players. “The core group of guys have played together for several years now,” Phillips said. “I’m really excited to work with this group of kids that care so much about each other.”