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TYLER, June 26, 2013--UT Tyler men's hoopster Joe Stephens is no stranger to going someplace new, the senior from Flower Mound has experienced five different schools over a four-year span. While those experiences have taught him a lot about himself, nothing could compare to his most recent adventure.
Stephens was chosen to take part in a basketball tour of Europe by The United States Collegiate Athletic Association, which partners with smaller DII-DIII schools to help athletes gain exposure on a national and global scale.
Over the course of 10 days, the team played five games with stops in London, Paris and in Amsterdam. While there, the team took on various club teams in England and a couple of French and Dutch professional teams.
"The cultural experience was amazing", said Stephens. "Without a doubt though, France took basketball the most serious. They also treated us really well the whole time, treated us like rock stars".
Stephens' team played well over the five games, going an impressive 5-0 while teaming up with players from all over the United States from schools such as Mount Union, University of Denison, Cheyney University, Hiram College, Edgewood College and Defiance college.
The business management major had heard about the trip last year from a former teammate who took part in the trip a couple of Summers ago, and was chosen this year by the teams' head coach.
While the basketball portion of the trip went well, the food in France was not his favorite part.
"The worst food BY FAR was the French breakfast, which consisted of old-tasting eggs and Greek Yogurt, I couldn't eat anything" added Stephens.
Stephens was able to get a healthy portion of his favorite food on the trip, the fish and chips in London.
The US team was able to take part in a French Basketball Academy, helping middle-schoolers learn the fundamentals of the sport, a time that Stephens said was probably the highlight of the trip.
The 2013-14 season will be the final season for Stephens to play for the Patriots, who he helped set a new program record of 18 wins in 2012-13 while averaging 10.2 points per game.
His European trip was not just for fun, but helped him prepare for the upcoming year with new head coach, Jamon Copeland.
"This trip exposed me to different style of play. The players were taller and would rarely dribble the ball more than once or twice, but they were smart and very skilled" added Stephens.
The experience will surely stay with Joe, who plans on continuing his basketball career or becoming a coach when he graduates from UT Tyler.
Stephens and the Patriots will open the 2013-14 men's basketball season with a showdown with D1 opponent Stephen F. Austin on November 8 in Nacogdoches, with the home-opener scheduled for November 22, against Hendrix.
Article by Jeff Williford
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