Every four years, the Golden Grizzlies basketball team goes on a trip abroad to face off against professional basketball teams. This is a trip that builds camaraderie and helps young players play against tougher competition.
Four years ago, the team traveled to Spain. That following season, they finished tied second in the Horizon League and defeated Clemson in the Vegas 16 Tournament.
In 2015, Head Coach Greg Kampe said of international trips, “From the student-athlete welfare side, it’s a chance that some of these kids would never get an opportunity to do. From another side of it, we do send a lot of kids to Europe to play professionally afterwards, so our players on the team are going to get a view of that.”
In their first game, the team won big, 92-49. The box score shows that every player on the roster played at least 10 minutes, something undeniably done to increase reps for the multiple freshmen that will be seeing action in the 2019-2020 season.
A standout was Jackie Harris, a six-foot, six-inch forward out of St. Francis De Sales High School. Harris put up 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds, shooting 75% from the floor.
The fifth-year seniors Brad Brechting and Xavier Hill-Mais were effective as expected, but Tray Maddox added a team-high 17 points as well. Maddox is the player who could fill in the scoring hole left by Jaevin Cumberland, and getting significant shots up against pro-level players will help him become an improved offensive weapon, to go along with his elite defensive abilities.
The next game for the Golden Grizzlies wasn’t as lopsided as the first. They lost 84-79 after holding a fourth-quarter lead. While many Oakland fans look at that and sigh “same old Oakland,” the result isn’t as important as the growth of the players. Winning, while great, is not paramount on an overseas trip like this. There is a reason minutes are divided up so evenly, it’s all about growth.
In the second game, it was another new face scoring points. Daniel Oladapo, a junior college transfer, put up a team-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Oladapo can provide solid scoring and rebounding as a rotational piece in his first year, since Brechting and Hill-Mais will receive the lion’s share of the front court minutes.
Oladapo, however, did sustain a minor ankle injury. It is not expected to be serious (according to a video posted by Kampe on Twitter), but it is something to monitor. With a lot of new faces, the injury bug can be a problem. Oakland is no stranger to that.
Today, the team heads to Athens after a multi-day stint in Mykonos. What fans should look for is the production from new faces. Brechting, Hill-Mais and Maddox are basically locks to play 35 minutes. The performances in Greece can help show who is ready to play more than 10 minutes per game against top Horizon League competition.
Featured Photo via @KampeOU on Twitter