By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
Just one year into his professional career, former Xavier soccer standout Nick Hagglund is already making noise around the MLS for Toronto FC. Hagglund was selected 10th overall in the MLS’s 2014 SuperDraft after an astonishing four years in a Xavier jersey where he made 80 starts out of 81 appearances for the Musketeers.
Hagglund amazed all those who watched and competed against him earning back-to-back First Team All-Conference and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the A-10 as well as in Xavier’s inaugural Big East season for his junior and senior seasons. Anyone who filled the stands at Xavier Soccer Complex over the last four years left knowing that they had witnessed a special player. Hagglund’s impact on the game never wandered with lesser opponents, as he constantly held down the back line of head coach Andy Fleming’s defense.
After a strenuous workout in Florida to prepare himself for the professional season, Nick made his professional debut in April. So far, Hagglund has found the field in 15 of Toronto’s 22 games — highlighted by 13 starts — and Rookie of the Week honors shortly after his debut. Despite the three-week World Cup break, Hagglund surely has his name in the hat for MLS Rookie of the Year.
Highlighting Hagglund’s early success was undoubtedly his efforts in shutting down striker Tierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls, one of his personal idols.
Joining Hagglund on the list of recent Xavier standouts drafted onto a professional sports team is former guard Semaj Christon.
After being the face of the basketball program for two years, Semaj took his talents to the NBA, where he joined former Musketeers David West and Jordan Crawford and was eventually drafted 55th overall by the Miami Heat. Following a couple of draft day trades, Christon is now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he will try to earn a spot on the roster and the opportunity to learn from reigning MVP Kevin Durant and perennial All-Star Russell Westbrook.
Christon said goodbye to Xavier after leading the team to a very successful 21-13 season, capped off with an appearance in the NCAA tournament.
The former First Team All-Big East player took part in the NBA’s Summer League with other rookies looking to make a name for themselves.
Christon is now preparing for training camp where he will hope to make the roster when Oklahoma City opens its season against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 29.