It is a bonus for Krystle Henderson that she gets to play basketball in Italy in August with the Wichita State women's team.
"I just want to sight see and experience their culture," she said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, so you have to take advantage of it."
Henderson, a redshirt freshman guard, can say the same thing about the basketball aspects of the trip. It's not important where she plays, just that she gets time practicing and playing with her teammates.
"Being a point guard, it's important that I learn everybody," she said. "What they're most comfortable with and how they interact with each other."
Henderson, from Dallas, didn't play last season because of a stress fracture in her left shin. A knee injury cut her senior season of high school short. Henderson is tired of rehabbing and practicing on the scout team. She is ready to play, and WSU needs her.
"I'm 100 percent anxious," she said.
Before the stress fracture, she figured prominently in plans at point guard. With the departure of guard BreAnna Dawkins, Henderson figures to assume a major role immediately this season. Junior Jessica Diamond, who also plays point, had surgery on her left shoulder in the spring. She is practicing and will travel to Italy, but coach Jody Adams is in no rush to make her play this summer.
WSU gets 10 practices to prepare for four games between Aug. 8-17. The Shockers practiced twice last week and will return to work on June 29. They will practice again in late July and the rest in August before the trip.
That scenario is made for players such as Henderson, who need a cram course in team chemistry. Adams isn't worried about Henderson grabbing the role of leader. She's not afraid to speak her mind, something Adams loves to see.
"She's very confident — I like her swag, the way she carries herself," Adams said. "She'll get in Haleigh (Lankster's) grill. She doesn't care that she's a senior or she's the star. She knows how to talk to players."
Henderson knows her way around the court, as well. She learned to take coaching as a freshman as Adams worked to cure her habit of jumping before passing. At 5-foot-3, Henderson needs to use her quickness to find gaps in the defense to get shots and find open teammates. She is a good three-point shooter who can also drive and make medium-range jumpers. Lankster, WSU's top scorer, already sees Henderson running the team and setting the pace in practice.
"She's a bully, and I like that," Lankster said. "She's a fighter, and we really need that. It's important to have your point guard that way."
Get acquainted — Adams will take WSU's four newcomers to Italy. Her description of each:
* Junior forward Nicole Wells (6-2) averaged 6.5 points and 6.1 rebounds at Georgia Perimeter College.
"She likes to face (the basket) and put the ball on the floor," Adams said. "She'll get (in the lane) and make contact."
* Junior point guard Jasmine Jones averaged 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds for Georgia Perimeter College.
"A great defender, instinctive with a nose for the ball," Adams said. "She can get to the rim, and she runs well."
* Freshman guard Alex Harden (5-11) averaged 14.9 points and eight rebounds for Springfield (Ill.) Southeast High. She also won four long jump state titles and two in the triple jump in Illinois' Class 2A.
"She can shoot the three, and she's got a nice mid-range game," Adams said. "She can take contact going to the rim. She should help us a lot."
* Freshman guard Molly O'Brien (5-9), from Spokane, Mo., earned a spot on Missouri's Class 2 All-State team.
"Strong body, athletic," Adams said. "Great mid-range game. Alex and her add strength. This is most mature group that I've had come in as freshmen. I like their coach-ability. They're going to do well."
Basketball bullets — One of the men working WSU basketball camp last week was Eyo Effiong.
Effiong is no ordinary herder of sixth-graders. He played on WSU coach Gregg Marshall's first team at Winthrop in 1998-99. In 2001, he earned the Anson Mount Scholar/Athlete Award from Playboy magazine.
Effiong, from Nigeria, is an accountant who lives in New Jersey. He keeps involved in basketball as founder and president of African Basketball, a non-profit organization that runs camps and programs for African youth. As a youngster, he played for the Ebun Comets, the same Nigerian club that produced current Shocker Ehimen Orukpe.
* Jerome Hamilton will continue his basketball career at Connors State College, a junior college in Warner, Okla. Hamilton, a 6-foot-7 forward, redshirted in 2009-10 at WSU. He was suspended for most of last season, appearing in four games.
* WSU's women's team will play at Kansas State on Dec. 7. It is WSU's first trip to Manhattan since the Shockers defeated the Wildcats 76-66 in 1999. The teams last met in 2000, when K-State defeated the Shockers in Wichita.
* Missouri Valley Conference men's non-conference schedules are beginning to roll out.
The highlight comes from Evansville, which landed marquee opponents to open its new downtown arena. The Aces open the Evansville Arena against Butler on Nov. 12. Indiana is scheduled to visit in November. Evansville also plays at North Carolina.
Bradley starts a series at Michigan in December. The teams play in Peoria during the 2012-13 season. The Braves also play Wisconsin and either BYU or Nevada in Chicago. Southern Illinois plays in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, a field that includes Kansas State, Xavier, Clemson and Auburn.