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Monday, June 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Hulls, Oladipo play basketball, tour China with faith-based sports organization

Victor Oladipo reached for the rim in slam-dunk competitions at halftime. Jordan Hulls reached the highest point of the Great Wall.

However the IU men’s basketball players did it, reaching was what their experience was all about.

Hulls and Oladipo played basketball, toured China and spent time with eight other Division I players from across the country May 17-31 with the REACH evangelist organization.

The REACH-compiled team, which also featured former Hoosier Malik Story, played seven games against a Lithuanian team and two games against a Brazilian squad in addition to sightseeing at the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, the Forbidden City and other historic Chinese landmarks.

“Not very many people even go over to China, see the Great Wall, see all those things,” Hulls said. “It was a very humbling experience for sure to get to travel around eight or 10 different cities in China and get to play basketball in front of thousands of fans. People love their basketball over there.”

First-time overseas traveler Oladipo agreed with his teammate.

“It means a lot to me,” Oladipo said. “A lot of people where I’m from don’t really get the opportunity to travel across the world and be able to play against competition like that.

“It was special for me, and I’m glad that I was a part of it.”

The players said they benefited on the court, citing improved leadership skills as their biggest gain in helping REACH USA go 6-2-1 in their games.

Hulls, who played mostly point guard for REACH USA, said he had to adjust to the situation.

“I definitely learned some different leadership skills,” Hulls said. “Getting a group of 10 guys from different colleges, it’s hard to just go out and play together and share the ball and all those kinds of things.

“I just learned you’ve got to take what you can get and try and direct guys in the right way on the court even if they sometimes don’t want to do whatever the coach says or whatever the case may be just because, like I said, 10 guys just coming together is kind of hard to play like that.”

Style of play was another adjustment. Hulls and Oladipo saw plenty of movement and screens from their Lithuanian opponents in particular.

“Playing overseas is a bit different,” Oladipo said. “They did move a lot, they back-door a lot, they screen a lot, so it definitely helped me on defense, getting over screens. It definitely helped me with my conditioning and just making sure my head is on a swivel.”

Hulls added the Lithuanians were not only quick but shot-happy from beyond the 3-point arc.

“The Lithuanians, they can really shoot the ball,” Hulls said. “All they did was pretty much run around in circles, run you off screens and shoot threes. I think one game we had like 27 threes combined as teams or something like that, something crazy. But they’re a really good team.”

While seeing new places, acclimating to new styles of play and building new relationships were focal points of the trip, both Hoosiers appreciated traveling with each other.

“Having someone there that I know definitely helped,” Hulls said. “I knew Malik Story just from when he was here a little bit. Having Victor over there, he’s a fun guy to be around. He can talk to anybody. He’s always fun. He mingled with all the people over there.”

Oladipo concurred.

“It made it a lot easier having someone to talk to, someone I knew, and it was a great experience for both of us,” Oladipo said. “We built a lot of chemistry, and we became closer out there.”

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