FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – While most basketball players head home during the summer for some relaxation and time off, that was not the case for Northern Arizona guard and reigning Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Quinton Upshur. The Norfolk, Va. native was one of 10 players selected to play on the USA Eagles squad and compete in a tour across Asia.
The 14-day tour allowed for players and coaches to experience the cities of Jiyuan, Huainan, Tianjia'an, Lvliang, Xicheng, and Dongcheng, as well as make a trip to Mongolia.
"The games were really competitive," said Upshur. "To be able to play against pro teams was nice. It gave me an insight as to what overseas basketball is like. We finished the tour 5-2, and it was definitely a team effort. I'm glad that my teammates and I were able to experience this together."
Upshur also participated in a three-point shootout against some of his teammates and members of the Chinese team. The guard, who led NAU in three-point percentage last season, finished second overall in the friendly competition.
"I got to experience the Great Wall of China," Upshur said. "It was breathtaking. You grow up in history class reading about it, but to actually see it in person and experience it was amazing."
During their down time, the team was able to do some more sightseeing and shopping. Some of the things they were able to see were the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and Genghis Khan Statue.
While in Mongolia, Upshur and his team were able to take part in assisting with a basketball camp at one of the local universities and another at one of the hearing impaired schools in Mongolia.
"It was nice to be able to give back to the local community," Upshur said. "Our coaches stressed to us that this would be a memorable experience for the kids to be able to work with American basketball players. To have such an impact on them in a few hours was really nice."
The USA Eagles squad was made up of Bryce Douvier (Texas A&M - Corpus Christi), Johnny Hill (UT Arlington), Al Freeman and Jonathon Motley (Baylor), Josh Hawkinson (Washington State), Elijah Macon (West Virginia), Clarke Rosenberg (Chicago State), Quinton Upshur (Northern Arizona), Jarvis Williams (Murray State), and Thomas Wimbush (Florida State).
"I really liked my teammates," said Upshur. "We became very close over a short period of time. We all bonded really well, and it has continued even now that we're back in the states. I know that we will all keep in touch even as next season approaches."