Redshirt junior center Jalone Friday was given the opportunity to represent and play for the United States in Italy this summer as he joined with other top collegiate talent.
Friday played for the USA East Coast team that included Kansas guard Charlie Moore, South Carolina forward Justin Minaya, Colorado forward Evan Battey, Purdue guard Sasha Stefanovich and Purdue forward Aaron Wheeler.
Friday, who is the first men’s basketball player to represent the university internationally, said he had been selected by coaches around the country to play for the team.
“When I showed up to practices, they were basically telling people either you were selected, you were recommended or we obviously saw the we you played and we like how you played,” Friday said. “They told me I was actually selected and recommended by a few coaches.”
His team showed up to New York in late July and practiced together for three days before departing to Venice, Italy.
The team was coached by NBA and NCAA champion Larry Brown, the only coach in history to win titles at the professional and college level. He also was an ABA champion, a three-time all-star and an Olympic gold medalist as a player.
Friday said his experience taught him a lot in helping improve his game and hopes to keep the momentum of this summer up during his season.
“It was truly a great, it showed me what guys in higher divisions can do, how they play, how their mindset is, and it shows me a lot that can help me in the long run,” Friday said. “I watched everyone closely – from the point guards to the centers – and I’m hoping I can bring the knowledge to ACU.”
While in Italy, Friday and his team played four exhibition games in which they split at two wins and two losses. They lost the first two matches against Germany and Italy, then faced Netherlands and defeated them twice in a row.
Friday said he thought the team had not been given enough time to practice and get used to each other for the matchups.
“I feel like we played pretty good; I felt like if we had at least a few more days of practice, we would have went 4-0,” Friday said. “In the two games that we did lose, we were still trying to figure out each other. In the last two, we figured it out, and those were the two games we won.”
Head coach Joe Golding and the rest of the men’s team were excited Friday had received the opportunity. Redshirt sophomore center Kolton Kohl said he’s looking forward to working with Friday after his summer experience.
“You get to learn about the different competition he had, and it’s also good for me because he’s a starter, so I get to look after him and see what I need to do better,” Kohl said. “He got coached by a legend, so he’s going to be more experienced than I am, and he can help us throughout the season.”
With the 2018-19 season approaching, Friday knows he’s ready to contribute to the team and wants to show his teammates what he learned from his time in Italy.
“I want to bring back wisdom, a few plays and competitiveness,” Friday said. “There’s a lot of stuff you learn over there, and you’re able to bring it back here with no problem.”
Friday said he was thankful ACU put him in the position to play with this team and gave him the opportunity to learn more about his game.