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Tristan Etienne didn’t need a lot of time to ponder his college choices.

When coach Lorenzo Romar offered the 6-10, 210-pound forward from Abbotsford, B.C., a scholarship Thursday to play for the Washington men’s basketball team, he quickly said yes.

“Growing up as a kid when I started watching the NCAA, Washington was a school that I took a liking to,” Etienne said. “When I realized I had a chance to go D-I, it was the school I was shooting for and the school I was dreaming about. I’m just so happy I had the opportunity to go there and play.”

There was a time when basketball was the furthest thing from Etienne’s mind.

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On November 11, 2011, he felt heart palpitations and was rushed to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

He was referred to cardiologists at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, where he was diagnosed with atrial septal defect — a congenital heart disorder.

Etienne underwent open heart surgery Jan. 11, 2012 and surgeons closed a two-inch hole in his heart.

Eighteen months later, the only evidence is a six-inch vertical scar down the middle of his chest.

He received clearance to return to the court during the 2012-13 season for W.J. Mouat Secondary School and blossomed into one of the Canada’s top prospects.

“I like to think of myself as a defensive player that will protect the basket,” Etienne said. “I like to keep my teammates involved. Good passer. Get rebounds. Block shots. I do everything I can to help my team.”

Pasha Bains, who coaches Etienne’s AAU team DRIVE Basketball, believes the big man is a perfect fit for the Huskies.

“He’s a 6-10 kid that can move,” said Baines, who played at Clemson. “He doesn’t move like a 6-10 guy. He moves like a guard. He’s fluid. He’s a great shot blocker. He can shoot the basketball. He’s a great passer.”

Etienne isn’t ranked by major recruiting services, but received offers from Washington State, Utah, Portland, Portland State and Boise State.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or

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