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Bound for China
Former CSU players Sloan and Kelley explore pro options

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@news-daily.com

Former Clayton State basketball players Michael Sloan and Brandon Kelley aren't ready to call it a career just yet.

If all goes well for the two former Lakers, professional basketball could very well be in their futures-in of all places China.

Sloan and Kelley are about to take the first step toward a career playing the game they love when they head to the Far East with a semi-pro team from Atlanta.

Their goals are both the same-impress scouts in the country that just played host to the entire world in the Summer Olympics enough to land a contract with one of the country's professional teams.

They will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Sloan and Kelley will spend nearly three weeks eating, breathing and sleeping basketball in and around the city of Shanghai, China's largest city.

The busy schedule will leave little time for sightseeing with games scheduled nearly every day.

Once in China, they will have to adjust to a totally new way of life, including language, diet and new customs.

Neither Sloan or Kelley is worried about adapting to the new way of life.

"I hope I am not back until next summer," Sloan said. "That means I have landed a contract with somebody."

This will be the first trip out the country for either player.

"My expectations are really high," Kelley. "My expectations are always high."

Sloan is also looking forward to the trip.

"I have heard a lot about China," he said. "I'm looking to get a deal out of it, so we will just have to see what happens."

Kelley and Sloan agree playing basketball at Clayton State for head coach Gordon Gibbons has prepared them to compete at the next level.

For Kelley, it just ended too soon.

The 5-foot-11 guard only spent two years with the Lakers after transferring in from Santa Fe Community College.

"I just wish I had spent all four years with Coach G, [Gibbons]" he said.

Kelley averaged 12.3 points per game at CSU.

Sloan only had to bring his basketball talents a few miles down the road when it was time for college after playing high school ball for Mac McConnell at Lovejoy.

Four years later, he left Clayton State as one of the top offensive performers in the program's history.

The former Lovejoy standout is second on the all-time scoring list with 1,261 points.

Sloan, who stepped into a starting role as a freshman played in a record setting 125 games for the Lakers.

He started a school record 108 contests.

He also shattered the 3-point shooting record during his four years at Clayton State, drilling 190 of the long-range bombs. That's 58 more 3-point shots then Carlos Head who made 132 treys from 1990-94.

Gibbons is anxious to see how his two former players do against international competition.

"This should be a great experience for them," Gibbons said.

"If I understand it correctly, they are going to visit 17 cities in three weeks. China has become basketball crazy, so they are in for a good time."

Sloan knows there will be some cultural differences to get used to once he gets off the plane after the 13 hour flight from Atlanta, but once he step on the court, he will be in familiar territory.

"I think it will be a little more physical," Sloan said.

"I hate to say it, but there are a lot of people who think Americans are arrogant, so the refs might let them beat up on us a little bit."

Kelley is grateful for what basketball has given him over the years.

"Basketball can give you a lot of things out of life," Kelley said. "I was able to get my education and go to school because of basketball."