Back in high school, Chris Eversley wanted to take Spanish or French but didn’t enroll in time to get one of those coveted spots.
Recognized as one of, if not the best, high-achieving schools in Illinois, Chicago’s Walter Payton Prep offered Mandarin Chinese as an alternative.
Eversley, named Cal Poly men’s basketball’s Most Valuable Player at the team’s annual award banquet Friday night at the Performing Arts Center, finally got to put those four years of Chinese class to use when he joined a touring team of American players with the United States Basketball Academy for a string of nine exhibition games in a 14-day trip through China last month.
After wrapping up a senior season in which he was named Big West Conference Tournament MVP and helped lead the Mustangs to their first NCAA Tournament berth and victory in Division I program history, Eversley’s proficiency speaking Chinese had faded some, but he said he retained enough to “stay out of trouble.”
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“It was a great experience,” Eversley said. “One of the things that I pride myself on doing is being as well-traveled as possible because I want to see as many cultures and different customs as possible. So, I feel as many stamps as I can put on my passport, the more well-rounded I’ll be.”
Eversley and his fellow Americans went 4-5 on the tour, but more importantly, Eversley got a taste of a country where he could have an opportunity to play professionally.
His agent was able to make some contacts, but what Eversley ended up finding out was his culinary tastes might be a little too picky.
“It was a nice place to go,” Eversley said, “but I want to go someplace a little bit more Americanized.”
That means Eversley could also look elsewhere. After averaging team highs with 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds this past season, he will likely have opportunities to play in Europe and also has not given up on the chance of playing domestically. He’d pursue a chance to play in the NBA’s summer league in Las Vegas, which could lead to Development League chances if not a roster spot in the Association.
“Whatever’s a good fit for me,” Eversley said, “and whatever’s the best fit for my family.”