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Chinese Connection: Krystkowiak's Pac-12 All Stars Leave for Far East

Star forward Jordan Loveridge, point guard Brandon Taylor, and center/forward Jeremy Olsen will accompany their head coach on the four-game trip, gaining valuable playing time and experience for the upcoming season.

Utah native and Utes star forward Jordan Loveridge takes his game to the Orient as a member of the Pac-12 All Stars.
Utah native and Utes star forward Jordan Loveridge takes his game to the Orient as a member of the Pac-12 All Stars.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

University of Utah men's basketball head coach Larry Krystkowiak, along with student-athletes Jordan LoveridgeBrandon Taylor, and Jeremy Olsen, will travel to China for a four-game all-star tour starting Aug. 10, as part of the Pac-12 Conference's Globalization Initiative.

The aim of the initiative is to help support Pac-12 member universities' international outreach efforts, build their brands in an important market, and provide quality educational and cultural exchange experiences for student-athletes. The Pac-12 will send 13 men's basketball student-athletes from 10 different schools with Krystkowiak serving as the head coach.

"It's an honor to have the chance to represent the University of Utah and the Pac-12 in China this summer," Krystkowiak said. "This is a great educational experience for everyone involved and I can't wait to work with this select group of outstanding student-athletes."

Loveridge, Taylor, and Olsen join a squad that will face a Chinese university all-star team and play three games against teams from the Chinese Basketball Association, including the Shanghai Sharks who are owned by eight-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming. Max Zhang, a former California student-athlete has been the center for the Sharks since his return to China in 2010. The Pac-12 all-stars will also play the Guangdong Southern Tigers, the 2013-14 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) regular season champion. The Tigers' leading Chinese scorer is Yi Jianlian, who played for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks under Krystkowiak during the 2007-08 season before returning to the CBA in 2012.

In addition to the competition in China, the team will participate in various youth clinics, as well as take in the culture and history of China with visits to various landmarks and historical sites in the cities of Shanghai, Nantong and Shenzhen.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Off to China with <a href="https://twitter.com/pac12">@pac12</a> team. Got the business class seats with <a href="https://twitter.com/RogerMoute">@RogerMoute</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/Runnin_Utes">@Runnin_Utes</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CalMensBBall">@CalMensBBall</a> <a href="http://t.co/j2YyUQLdKJ">pic.twitter.com/j2YyUQLdKJ</a></p>&mdash; Jeremy Olsen (@JeremyOlsen41) <a href="https://twitter.com/JeremyOlsen41/statuses/498570713339817984">August 10, 2014</a></blockquote>

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The Pac-12 is working with HUPU Sports Media Co. in arranging and promoting the tour, competitions, and cultural activities. The Pac-12 is also continuing its partnership with Federation of University of Sports (FUSC), China's equivalent of NCAA in organizing the third China-U.S. University Sports Week, an annual collaborative event between the Pac-12 and the FUSC that will feature a friendly game between the Pac-12 all-star team and a Chinese University all-star team and coaching clinics.

One very interesting aspect of the tour is that the United States Consulate in Shanghai has agreed to support the tour and will have senior members of the Consulate participate a welcome reception for the Pac-12 delegation, a tour press conference, and various activities of the tour in Shanghai and Nantong.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Pic of <a href="https://twitter.com/Runnin_Utes">@Runnin_Utes</a> pg Brandon Taylor during practice today. Picture taken by Utes Legend Kory Mortensen. <a href="http://t.co/v06GKBBsdv">pic.twitter.com/v06GKBBsdv</a></p>&mdash; Phillip Cullen (@PhillipCullen) <a href="https://twitter.com/PhillipCullen/statuses/498250261417058305">August 9, 2014</a></blockquote>

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For the Utes, this tour represents a chance for Loveridge, Taylor, and Olsen (two returning starters and a prominent bench player) to log significant minutes and gain valuable experience against quality international competition. The three Utes should be quite well warmed up once their fall camp begins, leading up to one of the most anticipated seasons in Utes history. Utah may be ranked in the preseason and will definitely be expected to contend for the conference crowd and make the NCAA field on Selection Sunday.

Krystkowiak's press conference:

Last practice before the team leaves: