Conference USA men's basketball will be heading to two different continents for an international start to their summer beginning Sunday, May 25.
A contingent of Conference USA "All Stars" led by Memphis head coach John Calipari, Tulsa head coach Doug Wojcik and UTEP head coach Tony Barbee will be heading to China. Student-athletes from all three schools, as well as Southern Miss, will play three games in three different cities during the week-long trip.
The trip was arranged through the University of Memphis' relationship with the Chinese Basketball Association. Memphis assistant coach John Robic and director of basketball operations Rod Strickland will also make the trip with the team, along with athletics director R.C. Johnson. The 12-man team will feature All-Conference USA selections Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier, Ben Uzoh and Jeremy Wise. The all-star squad, which will wear Nike-sponsored shoes and C-USA uniforms, will play exhibition games against the Chinese Olympic team (who will be without the services of Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian) throughout the Guangdong Province on the southern coast of China.
SMU, under the direction of head coach Matt Doherty, will be taking the Mustangs to Africa where he, his staff and the student-athletes will be playing games and teaching clinics in Senegal and South Africa during the 12-day trip. It will be a homecoming for two Mustangs, Bamba Fall and Papa Dia, who grew up in St. Louis, Senegal.
The trip begins with four days in Dakar, Senegal, where the Mustangs will play the Senegalese National Team and a game against the SEEDS Academy. In South Africa, the team will take a safari at Pilanesburg National Park and have a separate trip that will visit Soweto which has memorials of the struggle against apartheid (that includes a trip by Nelson Mandela's home). The squad will have a clinic in Johannesburg and face the South African National Team in an exhibition. The final leg has a visit planned to the Lesedi Cultural Village to experience tribal lifestyles, dancing, and music. The Mustangs will also perform coaching and skills clinics in each city. During preparations for the trip, the team took an anthropology class called People of Africa, but the trip is sure to provide life-long lessons and great memories.
Check back here for updates on each trip, including photos, game recaps, as well as journal entries and blogs from the student-athletes and China special correspondent David Scott.