For the past several years, the Clarkson University Men’s Basketball program has had at least one of its current players go overseas during the summer to represent the United States with USA Athletes International. Rising junior Marques Charlton (Deer Park, NY) was the latest in a long line of Golden Knight student-athletes who were chosen to partake in one of the organization’s good will trips to Europe.
Charlton had more of a whirlwind trip than any of the previous USAAI participants, who normally stayed in one country. He spent nearly 10 days in Europe, visiting London, Paris, Amsterdam and other parts of Holland as well as Belgium.
Charlton learned of the USAAI experience from former teammates Felix Llanos and Rey Jefferson, as well as current volunteer assistant coach Brandon Linton. Each had explained to him that the experience would perhaps be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“My favorite part was how much the people of each country loved us United States basketball players,” Charlton explained. “After every game, little kids watching wanted our autographs, our opponents wanted pictures with us, and there were plenty of people that came out to see us play, which was cool.”
Charlton’s team won four of the five games that they played, and was able to advance his game, despite the subtle changes in style. “I learned that the rules are quite different from (what I’m used to) playing in the Liberty League. The teams we played got away with a lot more travels than we did, which was expected. The players loved the game just like we do, and talking with some of the players they were shocked at how well we adjusted from playing with college referees to playing with professional refs.”
Besides the opportunity to represent the United States, the trip also gave Charlton and his teammates (including players from Colorado College, Rosemont College, Rhode Island College, St. Rose, and SUNY Potsdam to name just a few) the chance to take in many of the sights that Europe has to offer. “It was incredible,” Charlton remarked regarding the sight-seeing tours. “You hear about all of the monuments and architecture that these places have, but it is not the same as actually going there and seeing them in person. Being able to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower is something I will never forget, but I would have to say that London had the best architecture.”
Charlton averaged 10.6 points per game during his sophomore season at Clarkson, and was among the conference leaders with nearly five assists per game. He is already among the top 25 all-time at Clarkson in assists, with a legitimate chance of cracking the top three in that category when he completes his collegiate career.
“I believe this experience will help me tremendously in my next two seasons at Clarkson, considering the fact that I will be expected to produce more than I have the first two years,” Charlton said. “I feel that I will have a lot more confidence in myself as a player and a leader knowing that I played against some (top talent) and ultimately held my own.”
USA Athletes International, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving amateur athletes and coaches the opportunity to participate in international Olympic-style sporting events throughout the world, while also allowing them to broaden their educational and cultural knowledge of the world through the experience. USAAI has over 20 years of experience of international sports tournament travel and currently are represented with over 900 athletes in seven sports that travel around the world to over 14 countries.