The Hanson sisters have led APU women’s basketball to success, and the best is yet to come
Azusa Pacific women’s basketball team stars a unique dynamic duo, a pair of sisters. Savanna and Daylee Hanson are both talented guards, with vastly different specialties. Together, they have lifted the team to a dominant season. However, neither of the sisters began their collegiate career as a Cougar. Both transferred to APU..
In high school, Savanna was recruited from several D-I schools. APU was just a D-II contender in that mix of recruiters. She declined to play at APU, deciding to play at Santa Clara instead.
Savanna, the elder of the two sisters, played basketball at Santa Clara for a year and a half before she made the big decision to transfer. Little did she know, she would end up at the place she initially declined. Women’s basketball head coach T.J. Hardeman was able to get back into contact with Savanna.
“A couple of years later, her high school coach called me and said, ‘You know, Sav is thinking about transferring. Would you guys have room for her?’ I said absolutely. I said if we do not have room, we will make room,” Hardeman said.
Hardeman acknowledged the significant role Savanna would have on the team, as a player and new member of the APU community. He was not wrong.
Soon after, Daylee, who was playing ball in Idaho at the time, saw a positive change beginning in her sister. Daylee also felt pulled to transfer.
“Everything she was experiencing at APU, I wanted to experience, too,” Daylee said.
The challenge and growth was clear for Daylee. She was anxious to reroute her own college journey to APU.
Unfortunately, just a year after transferring, Savanna seriously injured her ankle on the court, ending her season prematurely. This injury led to Savanna to redshirt a year, meaning both she and Daylee were now both juniors in terms of athletics, although Savanna is still a year ahead academically.
Although both sisters are stellar athletes, Savanna and Daylee offer different strengths on and off the court. Savanna studies graphic design. She loves pursuing art and design. Daylee studies kinesiology. She enjoys learning about the science and movement of the body. She hopes to make exercise a part of her career and wants to teach physical education.
Both sisters bring extraordinary athletic talent; albeit, with different approaches to how they play. Their court styles differ vastly from one another. Savanna is offensively minded while Daylee is defensive minded. Their personalities match this difference.
“Our personality types are almost opposite from one another,” Daylee said.
Daylee has an outgoing nature. Savanna is socia, but naturally more introverted. Their differences create dynamic and complementary components as teammates.
Daylee explained that growing up, she always played alongside her sister. She watched and learned from Savanna, growing to be a more aggressive player.
Daylee was recently named the PacWest Defender of the week. She averaged 7.0 rebounds per game and 3.6 steals per game, with three consecutive dominant performances against Point Loma, Holy Names and Notre Dame de Namur to earn the award.
Savannah, on the other hand, is one of the offensive leaders for the Cougars, averaging 13.6 points per game. Her offensive play has contributed to APU’s success this season.
One can imagine the heavy comparison the two talented sisters face; yet, Savanna and Daylee are able to keep their individuality with a posture that brings life to their relationship and their team. It would be a mistake to categorize these sisters as the same player.
Coach Hardeman learned about coaching siblings through his own twin sons. He was able to take some of the lessons he learned from his sons and transfer it to coaching the Hansons.
“The dynamic between siblings is a little bit unique because they feel free to beat up on each other a little bit more than others,” Hardeman said with a chuckle.“They feel free to lash out, but they are also looking out for each other and helping each other and wanting to see each other do well.”
This endearing mix of high competitiveness and support serves the sisters well. Savanna said the pair has easy chemistry. They give each other one glance and know without a word what the other sister means.
“I think on the court we get compared to each other a lot,” Savanna said. “We both have different strengths. We both bring something else to the table. It’s impossible to compare us because we are so different.”
Savanna and Daylee do not take the unique situation they are in for granted. They have the opportunity to play collegiate basketball together for two years. That’s two years to grow together on and off the court, influencing others on campus. They share DNA but each sister is her own person. Each balances the other out with a set of complementary strengths. Each is impressive on their own, but together, they’re a true force.