Saluki shooting guard excels in abroad summer camp

By Gus Bode

Justin Bocot played limited time last basketball season due to an ankle injury, so he said he couldn’t resist when he got the chance to play with Division I talent this summer.

He said traveling to China was just added incentive.

“I’ve always liked traveling,” Bocot said. “Usually every summer I just go home and play pick up games, and this wasn’t the same.”


Bocot went to China May 17 with Reach USA, an organization that goes around the world to combine sports camps and exhibitions with Christian evangelism. Bocot played nine games in China on a team that featured athletes from several different schools, such as the University of Indiana and University of Kentucky.

Reach USA played seven games against Atletas, a club team from Lithuania, and two games against a Brazilian all-star team. Reach USA’s record was 6-2-1 and Bocot averaged 12.1 points.

“Justin left a good impression on us. He’s a good kid that really worked hard and did the things that we asked him to do,” Reach USA Executive Director Robert Speer said. “He was probably our most effective player all the way through.”

Bocot led the team when he scored in four games and dished an assist on a game-winning three pointer by Indiana guard Victor Oladipo during one of the games against Lithuania.

“It helped me basketball-wise because the style of play was different,” Bocot said. “It was more European style, and they didn’t call as many fouls. It was kind of like high school.”

While Bocot typically plays shooting guard for the Salukis, he mostly played point guard for Reach USA, Speer said.

“That was the big thing. He really did a good job at the point for us,” Speer said. “He hit a lot of big threes for us and really has a great knack for getting to the basket.”


While Bocot said he wasn’t sure his performance in China will sway Head Coach Chris Lowery to give him looks this year as point guard, it was Lowery’s relationship with Speer that led to Bocot’s involvement with Reach USA.

“We go watch a lot of games and know a lot of coaches and talk to them,” Speer said. “Coach Lowery is a friend of mine, and he felt like this would be a good fit for Justin and we just went from there.”

Speer said he couldn’t remember how long his friendship with Lowery dates back, but it has opened the doors in the past for other Salukis to play abroad for Reach USA, such as Carlton Fay, Jordan Meyers and Nick Evans. Current assistant coach Brad Korn also played with Reach USA when he played at SIU.

Bocot returned from China May 29 and interned with Saluki Media Services while he took summer classes to meet NCAA eligibility requirements for his fifth year at SIU and fourth with the team. Bocot said he’s glad that it is past him and he is healthy as he goes into his last season.

“Sometimes when you sit out you have a little rust, but you also have a little more vigor in you because you’re ready to get back and play,” Speer said. “If what we saw was rust, whoa, look out Missouri Valley.”