Men's Hoop Assistant Chris Croft To Lead All-Star Team

May 7, 2001

PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State Men's Basketball Assistant Coach Chris Croft will serve as the head coach for a college all-star team touring New Zealand May 21-June 1.

The team, sponsored by Baltimore, Md., based Planet Basketball, consists of 10 college basketball players representing four states. The roster includes J Locklier, a 6-foot-10 senior center for WSU and the Pacific-10 Conference Newcomer of the Year, as well as 6-foot guard Cedric Clark, who recently completed his senior season with the Cougars.

'This tour will provide J an opportunity to progress overseas and improve the skills that made him Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year,' WSU Head Coach Paul Graham said. 'He will gain valuable game experience against international competition. It will be a benefit for him as a player and a person and for the Washington State University basketball program.'

The all-star squad will hold a mini-camp May 18-20 in Pullman and Seattle before playing six games in 10 days in New Zealand, including a contest with the Basketball New Zealand 22 and under team.

'I am really excited about the upcoming Planet Basketball all-star trip,' Croft said. 'It is going to be a tremendous challenge for us as we compete against the best basketball teams in New Zealand. It will be a great learning experience for us educationally and basketball wise. I am very grateful to Seth Dechtman (owner of Planet Basketball) for giving me this opportunity to lead this college basketball all-star team against international competition.'

Croft just completed his second season under Graham. Croft and Graham were assistants together at Oklahoma State from 1996-98. Other stints for the Louisville, Miss., native include Maryland-Eastern Shore (1998-99) and his alma mater, Southern Mississippi (1993-96).

Locklier is lone player who will be a senior next season and Clark is among six players who have exhausted their eligibility.

'First and foremost, this trip will provide an opportunity to compete against high level international competition,' Locklier said. 'It is a chance to get better over the summer while traveling and taking part in a valuable education experience.'

'This is an opportunity to play basketball after college,' Clark added. 'This gives me a chance to get some exposure and to go places other people don't get to see.'

Croft's staff includes Paul Johnson (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Shea Taylor (Millsaps College).

One of Johnson's players, Lonnie Thomas, a 6-foot-8 forward who just completed his career for the Rajun Cajuns is a member of the team.

Also highlighting the roster will be Richard Kirklin, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward who was a member of Mississippi's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 team last season.

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