The Drexel men's basketball team will get a jump on the season by taking a 12-day trip to Australia that includes four games. The Dragons will depart for Melbourne on Friday.
"There's going to be a lot of really good basketball players that most people in the States never heard of," Drexel coach Zach Spiker said Wednesday before his team's afternoon workout. "… The guys will be physical, bigger and strong, and will have more experience than our group, so it will be a terrific experience."
The best team the Dragons will face will be the Sydney Kings, who recently signed longtime NBA center Andrew Bogut. Also on the team is 19-year-old Brian Bowen, a 2017 McDonald's all-American who committed to Louisville but never played there.
Bowen and his family were accused of being paid $100,000 in the FBI's sweeping investigation of college basketball that eventually led to the firing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino. Bowen transferred to South Carolina, where he was ineligible to play last season. He will be eligible for the 2019 NBA draft.
Senior guard Troy Harper, who averaged 10.1 points in his first year at Drexel last season after transferring from Campbell University, is looking forward to playing against the likes of Bogut.
"I think it will be fun and something to challenge us before the season to play against a couple of pro guys, and once we get into the season, it will probably be easier," said Harper, a standout at Neumann Goretti.
Drexel also will play the Cairns Taipans with recently signed D.J. Newbill, a former Strawberry Mansion and Penn State star.
The Dragons went 13-20 last season. With incoming freshmen allowed to make the trip, Drexel will incorporate seven new players.
That includes incoming freshmen guards Coltrane Washington, Camren Wynter and Matey Juric, graduate transfer guard John Trevor from Cal Poly, and 6-6 junior college transfer Zach Walton.
In addition, redshirt freshman forward Tim Perry and redshirt sophomore forward James Butler (a transfer from Navy) sat out last season but practiced with the team.
Drexel's leading returning scorer is junior guard Kurk Lee (12.4 ppg.), while 6-9 junior Alihan Demir averaged 10.7 points.
Spiker likes that the games will be 48 minutes with a 24-second shot clock, so he will give his veterans and newcomers plenty of minutes.
"Our goal is how many different situations that we can put our guys in to see and learn from," Spiker said. "You will have that many minutes and a 24-second shot clock, so you are going eight more minutes and two-thirds the [normal] shot clock, so that is a ton of possessions."
This is the fourth time the men's team has gone abroad and the first time since 2014 that the Dragons will participate in an overseas tour. Drexel visited China twice as well as Turkey.
Here is the schedule:
Aug. 20: Dandenong Rangers (in Dandenong, just outside Melbourne)
Aug. 21: Hops 24/7 All-Stars (in Pakenham, just outside Melbourne)
Aug. 23: Cairns Taipans