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Basketball: Jacobs grad Crishawn Orange returns home from overseas league

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Chrishawn Orange enjoyed his time in the eastern European country of Georgia, brief as it was.

Orange, a 2015 Jacobs graduate, started his professional basketball career in January with Mega Basketball, a Georgia A-League team from Tbilisi. Because of health concerns regarding COVID-19, the league suspended its games indefinitely.

Mega was 4-2 and in second place when the league stopped play. Orange averaged 21 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in those games.

“They’re trying to see what happens after everything,” Orange said. “April 5 was scheduled to see where everything’s at. At first they weren’t shutting everything down because there weren’t a lot of cases where we were at. They figured, ‘Let’s keep it open as long as possible.’ ”

But Orange was sent home Tuesday and arrived back in Algonquin on Wednesday. Orange, who is living at his parents' home, said the travel process was not too difficult given what has transpired around the world.

“Actually, everything was pretty easy,” he said. “They asked me some questions [at O’Hare International Airport] about where I’d been. I had to have my temperature taken when I got here. It was a little bit of a wait. I heard that some people were stuck for hours.”

Orange received a pamphlet with information on coronavirus at the airport and has since taken the proper precautions, avoiding contact and mostly staying at home.

Mike Naiditch, Orange’s agent with Beyond Athletic Management, was unsure the league would resume games for the playoffs. The last regular-season games were scheduled for March 30.

“I’m still hoping, but thinking it may be the end of it,” Orange said. “Mike didn’t think it would happen.”

Orange, a 6-foot-2 guard, played more games (125) than any men’s player in the history of NCAA Division III Augustana College. He played in more wins (104) and played more minutes (3,445) than any other Vikings player ever.

Orange scored 1,466 points for his career, which is sixth on Augie’s career scoring list. Augustana won four CCIW championships in Orange’s career.

Augustana coach Grey Giovanine had other players go through Naiditch to land deals with foreign teams and immediately saw that potential for Orange, who became the team's starting point guard as a sophomore.

Orange was thrilled with his professional experience in a different country.

“It was good. The team really embraced me when I got there,” he said. “It was crazy at the start. Our head coach [Antonio Doukas] didn’t speak a lot of English, just some word like ‘Hey!’ and stuff like that. My teammates helped me with what he was saying. At the end, it’s basketball, the kind of drills we were doing there I had always done before.”

Georgia actually has its own language, and Doukas is Russian and speaks Russian. The languages are similar, although sometimes even the native players had problems.

“They would say, ‘Yeah, man, I don’t even know what he said,’ ” Orange said, laughing.

Orange roomed with another American, 6-4 Daeshon Francis, who played at D-II Texas-Permian Basin in Odessa. Francis was in his second year in Georgia. They were the team’s leading scorers, and Francis was among the league leaders.

“It was fun. I got to experience being in a new country, seeing different people,” Orange said. “A lot of people there know English, so that was nice. I got to try different foods and being in a different culture.”

Orange is not sure where basketball will take him next, but he plans on playing somewhere else professionally, whenever that opportunity arises.

“Basketball will definitely be in my future,” he said. “I’ll see what I want to do next.”

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