Laney alum, Coastal Carolina hoops teammates make historic trip to Cuba is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Following back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, former Laney High School standout Elijah Wilson is enjoying another memorable college experience this week as the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team visits Cuba, becoming one of the first NCAA Division I teams to both visit and play basketball games on the island nation.

The two-time defending Big South champion Chanticleers departed campus in nearby Conway, South Carolina on August 6 and return to the states on Friday. While in Cuba, Coastal Carolina played three games against the Cuban national team, ranked 58th in the current FIBA World Ranking. The games served as Cuba’s final preparation before heading to Mexico for the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament.

Elijah Wilson drives to the hole during a game in Cuba. Photo courtesy- Coastal Carolina Athletics
Elijah Wilson drives to the hole during a game in Cuba. Photo courtesy- Coastal Carolina Athletics

NCAA rules allow for a foreign tour by an intercollegiate team once every four academic years. Leading up to their trip, the Chanticleers were allowed 10 summer practices to prepare.

Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba were officially restored in late July.

Secretary of State John Kerry is also scheduled to be in Havana, Cuba on Friday as part of an official flag-raising ceremony at the newly reopened U.S. Embassy on the island. According to the Chanticleer Athletics Department, Wilson and his teammates are hoping to attend the historic event.

After the departure of the team’s two leading scorers from one season ago, Coach Cliff Ellis is looking for Wilson to step into more of a leadership role as he heads into his junior campaign.

The Laney alum started 27 of 34 games as a redshirt sophomore, averaging 11.3 points per game. Wilson was named Big South Tournament Most Valuable Player and led Coastal with 66 made three-pointers. He also scored 20 points on seven field goals, including a 4-of-4 from long range against No. 1 seed Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament Second Round in March.