By Wendell Maxey, King School Sports Information and Social Media Liaison
The Vikings are officially China bound.
Last August Dr. Gilles Chosson, Director of Global Studies at King School and Micah Hauben, Dean of Athletics introduced the interdisciplinary program and King School China trip. The trip includes Global Education students and students studying Mandarin from March 7 – March 17 in Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi'an and Beijing, and also features basketball players in all grades from the Upper School Boys Basketball Program. The Vikings will play four exhibition basketball games during the trip, with one game in Shanghai and three taking place in Beijing.
After taking in a Chinese Basketball Association between the Shanghai Sharks and Shenzhen Leopards on Thursday and touring Shanghai on Friday, the Vikings will face Shanghai High School International Division (SHSID) with a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.
The team will travel to Chengdu and Xi'an, before getting ready for the next game on Monday, March 11 in Beijing at the Western Academy against the Beijing Falcons (6:00 p.m.).
Tuesday, March 12 has the team touring the Beijing Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Center and Summer Palace prior to going up against Jr. NBA China Zhongguancun Middle School (4:00 pm.).
On Wednesday, the team will visit the Great Wall of China, be guests at the NBA China Office, and will be hosted at the NBA Flagship Store in Beijing on Friday. Day 10 of the King China Trip has a "friendship" basketball game scheduled between the Vikings and Jianhua School in Beijing before closing out the exhibition games with a banquet and celebration.
King School China Trip Basketball Roster
Name - Grade, Position
Alex Canevari # 35 - 6'3 Senior, Guard
Paul Noujaim #22 - 6'4 Senior, Forward
Jack Armstrong # 24 - 6'4 Junior, Forward
Dylan McMorrow #15 - 6'3 Junior, Forward
Taylor Perlman #34 - 6'3 Junior, Forward
Alex Rogers #33 - 6'3 Junior, Guard/Forward
Jake Mizhen #20 - 6'0 Sophomore, Guard/Forward
Danny Acosta #11 - 6'2 Freshman, Forward
Billy Bennett #4 - 6'1 Freshman, Guard
Jeremy Cooke #5 - 6'4 Freshman, Guard/Forward
Ryan Hammoud #2 - 5'11 Freshman, Guard
Carson Perlman #3 - 6'2 Freshman, Guard
Sajan Porter #1 - 5'10 Freshman, Guard
Kenny Villard #21 - 5'11 Freshman, Guard
Head Coach: Nate Jean Baptiste (1st Year)
Assistant Coach: Patrick Nielsen (3rd Year)
Dean of Athletics: Micah Hauben
Wednesday - Day 1 Recap: It was a full day of travel on Wednesday, with King students, group leaders, and chaperones departing from Newark Liberty International Airport at 10:00 a.m. After flying roughly 7,400 miles on a 12-hour flight, they will be touching down in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon before enjoying a meal at the Dumpling Shack and taking in the Chinese Basketball Association game between the Shanghai Sharks and Shenzhen Leopards.
Make sure to check out the story from Jo Kroeker on the King School China trip that ran in Wednesday's Greenwich Time -- "King students to test language, hoops skills in China trip". Learn about how the trip has been a year in the making and hear from students about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel, study, and compete on the court in China. News 12 CT's Fred Gerteiny also spoke with head coach Nate Jean-Baptiste and the Vikings before traveling to China for their exhibition games in Shanghai and Beijing.
Thursday - Day 2 Recap: "Today was a very fun but tiring day. I am still getting used to the time difference after we got to China around 2:00 p.m., checked into our hotel, and then ate a dumpling lunch in Shanghai. The dumplings had soup inside of them and were really good. After lunch, we went to the CBA basketball game. Us basketball players got to go down on the court at halftime and have a shooting contest against SHSID (Freshman Carson Perlman hit the buzzer beater three-pointer to the win for the Vikings in the shootout), who we play on Friday. Overall, the CBA basketball game was good despite the Shanghai Sharks losing. We're on the bus heading back to the hotel after a long day. I am excited to learn about how the culture here is different than in America and to see the Great Wall!" -- Ryan Hammoud (King, '22)
Friday - Day 3 Recap: Friday was Game Day for the Vikings who spent the morning touring Shanghai. Students, chaperones, and coaches started the day off at the World Financial Tower to get the full view of the city from the 100th floor. The tour continued at Yu Garden shopping area with a tea ceremony and tour of the garden before grabbing lunch in the city center. King faced the SHSID Stallions for their first exhibition game of the trip, with the Vikings coming up short, 79-66. Senior Alex Canevari finished with a team-high 13 points (and became the first King player to score in China with a driving baseline layup) while Junior Alex Rogers added 11 points in the loss.
"Our first basketball experience in China was bittersweet. As much as we wanted to win, we experienced a different style of play and competed although we did not have our legs after traveling about 30 hours. We only practiced together once before leaving for China, so it was impressive to have 12 out of our 14 players score in the game. The respect of the game and level of intensity SHSID showed and played with during the game and even practice was refreshing to see. After competing we spent time together and learned more about one another. From having a great meal of Western Chinese spicy food and talking about basketball, music, and the perception of China, we were able to connect with our opponents in ways we will never forget!" -- Vikings head coach, Nate Jean-Baptiste
"Spending the day in Shanghai definitely was a great and different experience for myself and the team. We had a blast interacting with the SHSID players and at our post game dinner. It was interesting to see how the game of basketball is played here in China and some of the rule changes came as a shock to some of the players. All in all, Shanghai is an amazing city and I hope to come back here one day to explore even more. I can't wait to see the Great Wall...I've heard about it my whole life and seeing pictures online and now having the opportunity to see it, I couldn't pass it up. To go out and end my King career this way is amazing and to do it in another country with all of my teammates is a special experience." -- Alex Canevari (King, '19)
"Going to the tea ceremony was cool and we learned so much about different traditions and the culture in China. The game was interesting too -- we had to adjust to their pace and the different rules they play with. It was cool to be able to play basketball and see how people play it over here. At the team dinner after the game, we had the chance to talk with SHSID students and learn about Chinese high school life and how it isn't that different from ours. We were all relating to the same things." -- Alex Rogers (King, '20)
Saturday - Day 4 Recap: Day 4 in Shanghai included a full morning of a joint practice and drills between King School players and the SHSID Stallions, led by SHSID head coach Jayme Lawman and King head coach Nate Jean-Baptiste. The drills were not only designed to engrain the fundamentals of the game into the players' workout but also provided the chance for the two teams to come together on the court to help each other get better and the Vikings prep for their next game on Monday in Beijing against the Beijing Falcons. Check out some highlights from the practice and drills here, including Jake Mizhen nailing a halfcourt shot to wrap up practice. After practice, all players and coaches enjoyed a Shaanxi cuisine lunch (which they voted the top meal so far!) thanks to the hospitality of Coach Lawman and the Stallions!
Sunday - Day 5 Recap: The King School China tour continued with the group traveling to Chengdu to take part in a number of excursions. While some explored the Green City Mountain, the basketball team took in the Giant Panda Base (a non-profit research and breeding facility) before the groups met back up for a performance of the Face Changing Show and a Sichuan dinner.
"It was an active day after getting to Chengdu. We went to the panda park and saw tons of cute pandas. Our tour guide brought here 9-year old son as well, so it was interesting interacting with a kid that young that does not know how to speak English. After that we went to the Chinese Markets and everyone wanted to take photos with us. It was like we were famous, it was hilarious." -- Dylan McMorrow (King, '20)
"We had the chance to walk around the Silk Road, where there was some interesting background history with its trade routes that connected East and West. We also had a nice dinner at a restaurant where you have to boil your own food from raw to cooked in water. The talent show was cool too -- the Face Changing Show. People were dancing in different colored costumes and used a fan to change the mask they were wearing." -- Jeremy Cooke ( King, '22)
"On our first day in Chengdu we toured a very large research and breeding facility for pandas. The facility was located throughout a forest on a mountain and was surrounded by lush, green plant life. We were able to see lots of pandas for the first time ever. After lunch we did some shopping and were surrounded by locals wanting to take pictures with us. It was a pretty large crowd. We felt like rockstars! Dinner was like nothing I've ever experienced before. We were given raw meat at each table and cooked our own food in boiling water at the center of each table. It was a very new experience and I even tried pig brains. The Face Changing Show was also a fun display of a traditional Chinese performance!" -- Carson Perlman (King, '22)
Monday - Day 6 Recap: Monday was both a travel day and Game Day for the Vikings, who flew from Chengdu to Beijing where King took on the Beijing Falcons at the Western Academy of Beijing. Thanks to Alex Canevari knocking down 6 three-pointers and finishing with a game-high 34 points and fellow Senior Paul Noujaim adding a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, the Vikings defeated the Falcons 90-76 in their second exhibition game of the trip. After the game, both teams solidified their friendship on and off of the court by swapping basketball jerseys!
Tuesday - Day 7 Recap: "It was an active and eventful day...we started at the Beijing Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Center where the 2008 Summer Olympics were held. It was a long walk to the "birds nest" looking stadium, but it was worth it. We walked in and saw thousands of seats and in the middle was a track that we got to walk around, which was full of snow for the upcoming X-Games. Our next stop was at the Summer Palace that included tons of Chinese history. In the afternoon, we headed to our game against the Jr. NBA China team, Zhonggguancun School. They were pretty good but we put up a fight. We lost the game but we did all attend a nice dinner after the game between the teams, which was a great way to finish off the day." -- Billy Bennett (King, '22)
Wednesday, Day 8 Recap: Ask the students on this King School China trip about the one thing they are most excited to see or do while in China, and the most popular response is the Great Wall of China. That dream became a reality on Day 8 as the tour continued with a group excursion to the Wall (More than 1800 steps in the section of the wall the students visited), language immersion program at Beijing Jianhua School, a Peking Duck dinner, and some shopping at the Silk Street market highlighted the day in Beijing!
Thursday, Day 9 Recap: So much amazing history in the city center of Beijing! Along with additional academic and language immersion classes at the Beijing Jianhua School in the morning, the group explored Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and also the Hutong (Beijing local neighborhood), before rounding out the day with an impromptu scrimmage against the team from the Beijing National Day School International Division. Thank you to everyone at BNDSID for their hospitality and for letting the two teams get in another game in China!
Friday, Day 10 Recap: "The basketball team spent an incredible day at the Headquarters of NBA China where we got the opportunity to learn about all the initiatives and programs the NBA runs in China. It really started to settle in just how big a deal our own trip is when we watched a video on NBA players talking about how amazing it is to have the opportunity to play ball in a completely different country and have a chance to interact with all of the people here in China. From there, we moved onto the NBA flagship store in Beijing and got our hands on some really cool and unique NBA gear at the store. Friday also marked the last game for our exhibition schedule in China, as we topped off our trip with a nice 68-55 win over the Beijing Jianhua School. After the game, we celebrated the occasion with a banquet hosted by Jianhua School. Back at the hotel for a relaxing night now and we look forward to enjoying our final two days in China." -- Paul Noujaim (King, '19)
Saturday, Day 11 Recap: The King School China trip wrapped up their final two days in Beijing, complete with touring the Temple of Heaven, a Beijing Acrobat Show, a group dinner out and one last pick-up game at Dongdan Park before heading back home to Stamford!
"The last two days were filled with a lot of great activities. After the Acrobat Show, the basketball team traveled to a local area where we played pick-up games with local kids and guys in the neighborhood. The game and trip with the team really brought the group together and opened up a new cultural experience for all of us. Besides playing basketball, the boys did a shopping trip to the famous Silk Road market, where we bargained for replica items of popular designers that we have in the States. The last two days really wrapped up the China trip nicely and I can speak for the whole group when I say this opportunity was truly a memorable experience." -- Jake Mizhen (King, '21)
"Traveling to China is an experience that I will never forget. I enjoyed almost every aspect of the trip. Seeing these modern cities with such old elements really put in perspective just how long humanity has been here. I learned so much about Chinese culture and everyday life, like how different traditional Chinese food is from "American" Chinese food, having to live with censorship, and Chinese academic pressure. I'm still in contact with kids we met in China and really enjoyed having friends on the other side of the globe whose life is so different than mine. My favorite experience on the trip was walking along the Great Wall. It was incredible to me just how old, well built, and beautiful this wonder was. It was incredibly steep and even though I was super tired after the hike, it was an experience my friends and I will talk about forever. Overall, my trip to China was great and I would love to go back someday to explore more of the country." -- Taylor Perlman (King, '20)