Six thousand miles separate Shanghai from Berkeley, but the Pac-12 Conference is bringing the two cities closer together as part of its Globalization Initiative.
California men’s basketball associate head coach Travis DeCuire will represent the Golden Bears and the league as the Pac-12 expands its partnership with the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC) in Shanghai this August. DeCuire will be joined by Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson and Ernie Kent in a trip to the world’s largest city as the three will head a 12-day coaching clinic hosted by the FUSC.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” DeCuire said. “It is important for our program to be an influential piece in the conference’s Globalization Initiative. I am thankful to represent the Cal brand in China and be a part of a great educational experience for Chinese athletics.
“As a coach who has aspirations to one day be a head coach, it is an opportunity to do things that typically only head coaches do,” DeCuire continued. “It gives me an opportunity to interact with other head coaches on the road and hear other coaches speak outside of our program. It will be a great experience for me to grow as well.”
DeCuire will take a break from the busy summer recruiting period and leave on Aug. 1. Following a 12-hour flight, he will arrive in Shanghai, which is 15 hours ahead of the Pacific Time Zone, on Aug. 2.
The three coaches will interact with about 150 coaches in China’s university system and discuss every aspect of college basketball, from developing an individual to developing a program. In 12 sessions the group will focus on offensive and defensive concepts along with individualized instruction. They will also provide a broad scope of the NCAA and Pac-12 structure in the United States.
“The Pac-12 has formed a very valuable relationship with the Federation of University Sports of China,” DeCuire said. “What they are looking to do over there is somewhat simulate the system we have with university athletics in the United States and combine the academic component with athletics.”
In many situations in China, individuals participate in club basketball at a young age and develop into potential Olympic team candidates, who play professionally or leave for an education and basketball career in the United States.
“In talking with the presidents and trying to determine the strategy for the conference going forward, it became clear to me that globalization was a big deal for the schools,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott told the Pac-12 Networks. “Given the West Coast position of our conference, our schools are already the gateway to the Pacific Rim. There’s already a heavy Asian influence and it’s only natural for us [as a conference] to look West with so many of our schools already doing it.”
The Pac-12 Globalization Initiative began in 2011 and has expanded each year.
Alyssa Jensen, a freshman on the Cal volleyball team, represented the Golden Bears on the Pac-12 All-Star Team that traveled to China this past June, and the Cal women’s basketball program will play three exhibition games in Beijing and Shanghai Aug. 17-26.
The UCLA men’s basketball program completed an exhibition tour of China last summer and the Arizona State men’s basketball program will travel to Beijing, Zhaoging and Nanning for three exhibition games this August.
“It is perfect for us,” DeCuire said. “It goes along the lines of us being a Jordan Brand school and being a part of a select group to experience this opportunity. Cal is a recognized brand worldwide, and we will continue to grow globally.”
DeCuire, who is visiting China for the first time, will have some time to explore and take in the culture. He plans to travel to Beijing as well. DeCuire has attempted to reach out to Max Zhang to catch up with the former Golden Bear, who played at Cal from 2009 and 2010.
“It will be a great learning experience, and I look forward to embracing the opportunity,” DeCuire said. “I will teach the game and represent the Golden Bears the best way I can.”