The Heart of the Phoenix

Although his calm and quiet personality presents as unassuming, Christian Djan is the “heart and soul” of the boys basketball team.


Megan Hayes

Christian Djan (22) looks to pass while being double teamed in a Jan.6 game against the Dominion Titans.

Nicolas Biernacki, Staff Writer

Senior Christian Djan, who goes by Bill, immediately sticks out on the basketball court with his aggressive rebounding and ferocious hunger for blocks. However, Djan’s ascension almost didn’t happen, as he missed all of last season due to COVID-19. Stepping on to the court for his senior year meant that this was his last chance to suit up for the Phoenix. “We are so happy [Djan] could play his senior year,” head coach Jason Geyer said. 

Djan’s teammates were also excited to have him back this season. “He’s a huge difference [to the team]; he’s able to get rebounds and score, which we missed last year,” sophomore Daniel Okoye said. The positive impact Djan brings to the team isn’t only felt on the court. “He’s  always playing music and getting us hyped for our game,” Okoye said. 

Djan likes the laid back climate of the team in the locker room. “I’m pretty quiet, but in the locker room, we’re all talkative,” Djan said. “We’re all good friends, it’s  definitely a good atmosphere.” 

Djan is close with many of his teammates off the court. “Bill is always supportive of your decisions [as a friend], but he’ll also tell you his opinion,” Okoye said. Djan also has a humorous side to him. “Bill always refers to me as his son, and people have begun to call me ‘baby Bill,’” Okoye said. 

Because of his lost season a year ago, this year is Djan’s last chance to suit up for the Phoenix. Fellow teammates want to make the season a great one for the seniors. “We don’t know if  [the seniors] are going to get another chance, so that brings a sense of urgency for us to go out there and really try our hardest to win every game,” freshman Mekhi Motilewa said. 

Djan’s best game of the season was against the Broad Run Spartans on Jan. 18. He had seven blocks, but the Phoenix lost 48-36. “We definitely didn’t play well,” he said. He takes losses as a learning experience. “When we lose, it means we have something to work on,” he said. For Djan, that means focusing on shooting, which he considers his weakest skills in the game. 

However, Djan has a lot more to praise than to criticize. He isn’t just a strong player — averaging seven rebounds and one and a half blocks per game — he is also a leader on the team. “Bill helps the younger players on the team, such as myself, by helping us with plays and positions,” Motilewa said. 

“I always try to push them [the younger players] to try their hardest,” Djan said. 

Even Though Djan doesn’t say the most on the team, whenever he talks, his teammates listen. “I’d say I’m a leader on the team. I know I’m not the most vocal player, but I always try to get my teammates going,” Djan said.  

“Bill is a great leader, he motivates us and gets us to communicate on the court,” Motilewa said. 

Djan hasn’t been playing basketball as long as some of his Phoenix teammates, only starting six years ago. Djan credits his father for his interest in basketball. “I always watched basketball with my dad as a kid and thought it looked fun,” Djan said. 

To make up for lost time, Djan works extremely hard to hone his skill on the court. “Bill works really hard to improve, and he works really hard to make the team better; he’s the first one in and the last one out,” Okoye said. 

“I spend at least seven hours a week playing with friends, and when we’re in season, we practice for an hour and a half to two hours a day, six days a week,” Djan said. 

Despite that, Djan’s life isn’t consumed by basketball. The senior is also interested in cyber security, participating in the cyber security club at the Academies of Loudoun. Djan also spends his free time at home by cooking and playing video games. 

Even though Djan has had a great career with the Phoenix, challenging some school records in rebounds and blocked shots, he doesn’t plan on playing basketball in college. “I don’t plan on playing basketball after high school — I think I’m just going to chill and focus on school,” Djan said. 

No matter what Djan decides to do after his time with the Phoenix concludes, he will be remembered for his time on the basketball court by his teammates and coaches. “Bill has truly become the heart and soul of our team. He practices hard and he’s always ready to play,” Geyer said.