After injuries ended his playing days a year early, Chris Balham spent his senior season with the Huskers as a student assistant coach. He worked with the coaches on the court and helped the young Husker roster adjust to the rigors of Big 12 play.
Balham graduated in August of 2009 before his senior season, and spent the 2009-10 academic year working in the master's program.
Despite continuing knee problems that drastically limited his practice time for the second straight season, Chris Balham (pronounced bahl-um) made the largest on-court contributions of his career as a junior, starting 23 games on the year while averaging a career-high 10.1 minutes per game. He was the Huskers' tallest active player, as the 6-8 forward was the only regular contributor over 6-6 on the shortest Division I team in the country.
Balham showed greater endurance than previous seasons, battling through his knee pain to play at least 10 minutes in 15 games, including 13 times in a 15-game stretch in the middle of the season. While gaining effective playing time, Balham averaged 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game on the season while hitting a solid 50.0 percent (19-of-38) from the field.
Balham played a season-high 18 minutes against South Carolina State near the end of the non-conference slate. He hit 2-of-3 shots from the floor and added three free throws. Balham finished with a season-high tying seven points and was one off his career high with seven rebounds.
Following his second straight seven-point performance against Maryland Eastern Shore, Balham finished out the non-conference schedule with a career-high-tying eight boards against Florida A&M, when he also hit a career best five free throws in six attempts at the line.
Playing a team that struggled to rebound, Balham added at least two offensive boards nine times, including five games in conference action. He had three offensive boards each in near upsets against Oklahoma and Kansas, and added six boards in a road win at Texas Tech. He posted a conference-best seven rebounds at Missouri near the end of conference action.
By the end of the regular season, Balham had helped the Huskers to 18 victories and spot in the postseason NIT for the second straight year. He played 11 minutes at New Mexico in the first round of the NIT, his most extended minutes in nearly a month because of a flare-up of his knee issues. Balham scored seven points against the Aggies on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and added three rebounds for one of his most complete games of the year.
Balham nearly doubled his playing time from the previous year as he saw action in 32 games. He played an average of 7.8 minutes per contest (251 total).
After being a strong rebounder and defender early in the season, Balham started to become an effective option in the Husker offense as the year wore on. He made his most significant contribution in Nebraska's upset of No. 22 Texas A&M in College Station. Balham came off the bench to play 11 minutes, scoring a career-best 10 points with three rebounds. He perfectly executed several pick-and-roll plays leading to easy, uncontested baskets as he hit
5-of-7 field-goal attempts.
It was the second straight win for the Huskers over a ranked team. Balham played a hand in the previous victory as well by hitting both of his shots from the floor and scoring five points in 11 minutes in a win over No. 24 Kansas State three days earlier.
Balham's three highest-scoring games in league play all came on the road at Texas A&M, Kansas (six points) and Oklahoma State (six points). He also recorded his best rebounding games in league play away from Lincoln, posting eight boards at Kansas, five at Kansas State and five versus Missouri in the Big 12 Championship.
2006-07 (Redshirt Freshman)
Balham made strides down the stretch of his redshirt freshman campaign after an illness at the beginning of the season derailed his early progress. Balham suffered from weakness in his legs and spent three days in the hospital in November before returning to practice. Once he was cleared to participate, Balham slowly regained his physical presence on the court and finished the year playing in 26 contests. He played more than eight minutes in a game only four times, including just once after Christmas.
Balham's most important performance came on the road against Missouri when he pulled down two late offensive boards and hit 3-of-4 free throw attempts for a season-high three points to help the Huskers to a come-from-behind road victory. Balham also pulled down two rebounds on the offensive end while adding a steal and basket to help Nebraska sweep the Tigers with a win in Lincoln.
Balham redshirted during his first season at Nebraska. He practiced with the team but did not compete during the regular season.
A raw talent with great potential, Balham began playing basketball after coming to the United States from France before his freshman season in high school.
Balham played three seasons at Shawnee Mission West, finishing his career by guiding his team to the 2005 Class 6A state championship game. His team finished with a 15-10 record as he averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots as a senior. Balham was named all-conference, all-county and honorable-mention all-state in 2005.
As a junior, Balham averaged 9.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks while helping the Vikings to an 11-10 record. Despite finishing one game above .500, West was the top defensive team in the state as it allowed only 41.9 points per game while holding opponents to just 38 percent shooting from the floor. Balham helped West outrebound opponents by an average of seven boards per game.
The son of Vella Ndebo and Likale Balham, Chris was born in Paris, France, on March 15, 1986. After growing up in France until high school, Balham is fluent reading and writing French. He has two sisters, Isabelle and Meg, and two brothers, Jojo and David. Chris is majoring in international studies and Spanish at Nebraska.