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SJU Basketball team at the Great Wall in China, 1987

The SJU basketball team participated in the Shengdu Men’s International Basketball Invitational Tournament in June 1987 in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province, China. They were invited as guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who paid for everything happening in the country. SJU was one of six teams invited. They were the first American team of any kind to ever participate in a sporting event in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces. The games were broadcast live and replayed twice. The team became popular and was recognized when they went touring and shopping. Jim Smith was the head coach of the team at the time and Father Roman Paur, vice president for student affairs at SJU also went on this trip.

In 2004, the SJU basketball team was once again invited to a tournament in China. The tournament ran May 12-24. They ended the tour with a 4-0 record. They did a lot of touring on the trip. They played by international rules, so it was a little different. All the teams had tall and physically intimidating players. Head coach Jim Smith could not go with because of a health condition, so former SJU assistant coach Jake Zauhar and Luke Witt, a former all-MIAC player for the Johnnies, went instead.