Chris Hall averaged 25 points a game as a Clovis senior three years ago. (CNJ file photo)
Chris Hall thought he had given up his dreams of playing Division I basketball when he transferred to New Mexico State two years ago.
But sometimes dreams die hard.
Hall, a former high school standout at Clovis and Texico, played his way onto the New Mexico State team this fall as a walk-on. A reserve sophomore guard, Hall practices and travels with the Aggies, who are suffering through a 5-17 season.
He’s played in three games this season, but only for two or three minutes at a time. He hit a 3-pointer and pulled down a rebound against Midwestern State on Nov. 27.
New Mexico State coach Tony Stubblefield said coaches are thrilled with Hall’s work ethic and attitude, and that if he can bulk up, he could see more playing time in the future.
Hall said he’s content with his playing time because at least he’s on the team.
“I’m here and I’m happy,” said Hall, who helped Texico win the Class 2A state title as a junior in 2001 and averaged 25 points a game as senior after transferring to Clovis.
“I knew he was going to be a great player, but to play at as high a level is a remarkable adjustment,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said of Hall’s senior year.
“He had the quickest first step I’ve ever coached. He was only 5-9, but he was a great shooter.”
Hall tried out for the team two years ago, but coaches picked a post player. Rejection fortified Hall’s resolve. For the next 12 months he worked on his game.
“I found the passion was really strong inside of me, I couldn’t let it go,” Hall said. “I felt there was a big piece missing in my life.”
Hall would show up at the basketball office to make sure he had the right date and time for October tryouts.
“Chris is a guy that showed that commitment,” Stubblefield said. “We really respect Chris’ efforts.”
Hall beat out around 20 other players for a roster spot.
“He definitely earned it,” Stubblefield said.
“I’m not surprised he made it, either,” Isler said.
“Sometimes players get discouraged or get off track and he just kept pursuing his dream.”
Hall thought basketball was behind him after transferring to NMSU from Garden City Community College in Kansas. Hall played there for the 2002-03 season, hoping to eventually earn a Division-I scholarship. However, a coaching change that summer meant he would have to fight for a scholarship to play in a system he didn’t like.
After a few days on campus in Las Cruces, he found he could hold his own in pickup games that include Aggie team members and decided his dream was worth one more shot.