All-American candidate, off the court

February 26, 2009 4:32:49 PM PST
He's an All-American candidate, and a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, but for Temple hoops star Dionte Christmas, nothing would be possible without the work he's put in, off the court.

"There's a lot of people that would give their right arm to play for Temple University."

And not too long ago Dionte Christmas was one of them because he was on the outside looking in because of his grades.

"When I thought you know just by playing basketball would get me to where I wanted to be. When it suddenly hit me that school would play a big part of that."

After graduating from Fells High in the city the average "C" student would spend a year at prep school and that wasn't enough. Before Temple accepted him the university enrolled him into their summer school program to make sure he was cut out for it.

"It was so much work, I was like there's no way I'm going to take care of this and play basketball."

As soon as he passed that test he failed the next one, Dionte failed two courses within his first three semesters, his grade point average bordered at the 2.00 eligibility line that's when the shooting guard really got his act together.

"While he struggled a little bit early on he has really made a gradual process uh out of this thing," said Temple Head Coach Fran Dunphy.

Despite his early struggles Dionte's come a long way; he's on track to graduate in just four years he'll walk down the aisle this May at the Liacouras Center the same spot where he stars on the basketball court.

"I'll be the first person in my family to graduate."

He's also on the verge of becoming the first player to lead the conference in scoring back to back to back. And he'll be the first to tell you it wouldn't be possible without taking care of the number one priority, school.

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