Knights forward Keith Clanton travels to China to compete for Reach USA all-star team
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 16:06
Productivity for a player during the offseason can be measured in a variety of ways.
There's weight loss, muscle gain, skill development; the usual barometers.
And, in the case of UCF forward Keith Clanton, there's the amount of frequent flyer miles racked up.
Clanton took his game to the Far East this summer, traveling to China as a part of the 2011 Reach USA Cultural Exchange Trip. The junior forward was a part of a college all-star team featuring players from schools such as Kentucky, Indiana, TCU and Nevada.
"It was a real good because sometimes you get used to just playing with your same UCF team, and if you're trying to make it to the next level you have to play with different players," said Clanton.
Clanton averaged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds over the course of the team's nine-game tour. The team finished with a record of 6-2-1.
In the American team's last contest against a team from Brazil, Clanton dominated the boards, picking up 17 rebounds in addition to 14 points. Clanton believes he did well but also noted the differences of playing ball on the international level.
"It's a real different style of play. The free throw line's different, the paint's bigger," Clanton said. "I had a couple bad games, but overall I think I did pretty good."
Perhaps just as valuable for the Knights' second leading scorer was the experience of traveling to a new place. In addition, the trip was organized by Sports Reach, a Christian ministry based out of Kentucky, allowing the players an opportunity to talk to people about their faith.
"China was a real different for me; I'd never seen anything like that," Clanton said. "I got to see the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. Coaches talked to a lot of players, [and] we got to talk to and meet a lot of people; talk to them about God and stuff. It was a real good experience. If I had to give it a grade, I would give it an A-plus."
Coach Donnie Jones expressed similar approval of the trip and the effect it would have for one of his impact players.
"It is a great opportunity for him to travel and get to see a different country," Jones said in a release. "It is a great opportunity for him to improve his game over the summer."
Now that he is back, Clanton is enjoying his summer, but is also anxious to get ready for next season.
"It's going good; just trying to work hard, stay in the weight room and practice every day," Clanton said.
Specifically, Clanton noted his need to improve his strength during the course of the offseason.
"I think the biggest thing [to improve on] is strength. I [have] been working on a lot of strength and just being able to guard more than one position."