The Pac-12 Conference selected USC men’s basketball player Nikola Jovanovic to play for the Pac-12 All-Star Team that will travel to China this summer. The All-Star Team will play four exhibition games in China, one against a Chinese university all-star team and three against professional Chinese teams, on the trip.
The team will embark for the trip Aug. 10 and return Aug. 20. The group will leave from San Francisco for Shanghai and make stops in Nantong and Shenzhen.
The three professional teams challenging the American team are the Jiangsu Dragons, the Shanghai Sharks and the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. The Tigers are one of the premier teams in the league, and former NBA All-Star Yao Ming owns the Sharks.
Three years ago, the Pac-12 Conference launched a Globalization Initiative in order to help grow the brand of the conference in the international market. The initiative also hopes to give student-athletes participating in the program a tremendous educational experience by enabling them to interact with people of different cultures.
The Pac-12 team features thirteen players representing ten of the twelve Pac-12 schools. Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Stanford, Washington and Washington State all have one player on the team, two members of Oregon State made the team and Utah is sending three players as part of the delegation. Jovanovic is the lone USC representative on the roster. Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak will coach the team. UCLA and Oregon are unable to send representatives due to the trip conflicting with the schools’ academic calendars.
Four of the thirteen players on the Pac-12 team come from outside the United States, including Jovanovic, who was born in Belgrade, Serbia.
Jovanovic, a 6-foot-10, 215 lbs. forward, played in all 32 of USC’s games last year as a true freshman. He averaged 8.0 points per game as well as 4.4 rebounds per game. Jovanovic earned starts in 24 of those 32 games.
Jovanovic had a .516 field goal percentage and a .761 free throw percentage last season. He was awarded the Harold Jones Memorial Award by USC as the team’s most improved player. The team finished 11-21 overall and 2-16 in conference play, failing to qualify for the postseason.
“I’m really excited to be selected to the Pac-12 team for this trip to China,” Jovanovic said in a USC press release. “I am really honored to represent USC and the Pac-12 in the tournament and will give my best to help the team win every game.”