Iowa State's Ejim Takes Game International Again

By Rob Gray, Reporter

AMES, Iowa - Melvin Ejim's somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

Destination: China.

Again.

The rebound-hoarding Iowa State forward from Toronto has embarked on his third overseas trip in 22 months — this one for Team Canada, in preparation for the World University Games.

"It's really just a fun atmosphere," said Ejim, an ISU senior who nearly made the Nigerian Olympic team last summer and holds dual citizenship. "It's really just a great experience and I'm really glad I get to do this, especially with Canada on my chest."

Oh, Canada.

Oh, if most of us could travel like Ejim.

"I can sleep for a good amount,"said Ejim, who took off early Wednesday morning. "I wouldn't put it past myself sleeping for, like, six hours, and maybe watch a movie. Then again, if I see a couple good movies, I may just watch them the whole time. But we'll see. Hopefully I can get some rest."

He'll want and likely get it.

Ejim, a constant in the Cyclones' starting lineup for three seasons, continues to find grist for his small forward game abroad.

"I'm excited to go forward and play," Ejim said. "Especially in China."

Ejim's been training in Portland, Ore., in advance of the exhibition games in China.

If all goes well he'll compete for Team Canada in the World University Games July 6-17 in Kazan, Russia.

Ejim played overseas last summer for Nigeria and also went on a dribble-drive trip abroad with ISU to Italy in the summer of 2011.

So who will he play for in the future?

Canada or Nigeria?

Stay tuned.

"Because this is an FISU and not a FIBA-sanctioned game, so I'm able to play," Ejim said. "Basically, I still have the choice. I can play for Nigeria or for Canada, but once I play in one game, whether I play in it — regardless, if it's FIBA-sanctioned, I'm essentially done and I can only play for that team no matter what. So it's definitely a tough decision. ... I'll make that at that critical juncture in my life, but right now I'm just trying to enjoy it moment by moment and take it a step at a time."

Past steps have led to improvements Cyclone fans can appreciate.

Mainly, in perimeter shooting, where Ejim has improved recently, netting 34.8 percent of his attempts from 3-point range last season, versus 22.6 percent in the previous two.

"It's really enabled me to develop my game as a guard and as an undersized forward, making all my mismatches and stuff like that," Ejim said. "But it's really just becoming a better player and I think that's something I've gained with the Nigerian team and something I'm gaining right now with the Canadian team. So that, too, is an exciting prospect."

Just like flying several hours, which causes some minds to fret, but not Ejim's.

Transport is transport.

Hoops is hoops.

I don't really feel like it's the flight that's going to matter," Ejim said. "It's the experience we're going to gain. The camaraderie and how we're going to get to know each other on the flight and when we're in China will be really good. So I'm worried less about the flight than the experience of China again — building relationships with these people that will probably last a lifetime."
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