'Eaters expand borders

The UC Irvine men's basketball coaching staff's international flavor should help attract foreign players to the program.

August 14, 2010|By Barry Faulkner,

The logo on the Bren Events Center court reads 'Eater Nation. But first-year UC Irvine men's basketball coach Russ Turner believes that to achieve the kind of success he envisions, the Anteaters will need to utilize players beyond American borders.

Turner, hired in April, announced the arrival of Maxim Chupin, a 6-foot-8, 220-pound post player from France on Monday.

Chupin, who averaged 12.5 points and seven rebounds per game while helping his Cholet club team win the French League Championship this past season, is still awaiting eligibility clearance from the NCAA. But his arrival is not the only new addition of foreign-born talent to the UCI program.

Assistant coaches Ali Ton and Amadou "Pape" Koundoul will be counted upon to help grease the pipeline of foreign talent that Turner hopes will help him lead UCI to the top of the Big West Conference.


Ton is a native of Turkey, where he learned the game under his father, Necmi Ton, who coached professional teams there for many years. Ali Ton came to the United States to play point guard for Los Alamitos High and he starred collegiately at Davidson College in North Carolina, where he is the program's all-time assist leader.

He played professionally in Turkey for four years and had developed a reputation as an international recruiter. He spent the last three seasons at Radford University, where he landed two-time Big South Conference Player of the Year Art Parakhouski from Minsk, Belarus.

Koundoul was born and raised in Dekar-Senegal, Africa, before coming to America at age 20 to play at a prep school. He then competed for three college programs, ending his career at Cleveland State. His brief collegiate coaching career includes a stop last season at Centenary (La.) College, after stints at Saint Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, Miss., as well as several high schools. He was also formerly the associate director and coach at Branch West Recruiting Service.

Ton's connections helped land Chupin, but Koundoul, who speaks French fluently, also helped convince the French standout and his family that he would be comfortable at UCI.

"When [Chupin] found out I could speak French, I could tell he was excited," said Koundoul, who knows firsthand how imposing cultural barriers can be.

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