FLORENCE, S.C. – A former Francis Marion University men’s basketball player has traded in his red, white, and blue Patriot uniform for a red, white, and blue ball and an extensive travel schedule. Former FMU player Vony Rivers is currently travelling the world as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Rivers, a 6-2 182-pound guard, goes by the nickname “Rocket” and wears jersey number 17. The Burton, S.C., native is in his second year with the Clown Princes of Basketball, and has been on five different tours across the globe.
Rivers played two seasons (2004-06) at Francis Marion and earned a B.B.A. degree in management in 2006.
When asked how he earned a roster spot on the Globetrotters, Rivers said “After I graduated from FMU, I played for a very short stint in the ABA. I was not satisfied with how that turned out, so I started going to different exposure camps and workouts. At one of the workouts, a talent recruiter for the Globetrotters named Al Clocker discovered me and extended me the invitation to come workout with the team. So my first time on an airplane was a trip to Houston, Texas, for my workout. I did a great job and was offered a rookie contract.”
“As far as my role on the team, I'm kind of an all around guy, so I'm labeled as a playmaker. That consists of ball handling, dunking, dribbling, and whatever else the team needs me to do at the time.”
Rivers name was mentioned in a recent Sports Illustrated article about the Globetrotters.
“The travel is a grind, but it just may be the best part! I have been to places that most people can only dream of, including multiple countries in South America, Europe, and Africa, not to mention all over the United States and Canada.”
When asked about his most memorable experience, Rivers responded, “My most memorable moment has to be when we traveled to Israel and I had the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked and pray on the stone where his body was laid at his final resting place. There are no words in any language that can describe the feeling or experience of those moments.”
The Globetrotters recently concluded a 209-city tour, which produced team box office records in 62 markets, as the team visited 43 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, seven Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico.
In his two seasons at Francis Marion, Rivers averaged 7.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during the 2004-05 season and 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game as a senior in 2005-06. During his two years in Florence, he connected on 34.4 percent of his three-point attempts and compiled more assists than turnovers (117/99) while recording 79 steals in 54 games.
He was twice named to the Peach Belt Conference Presidential Honor Roll and the FMU Swamp Fox Athletic-Academic Honor Roll.
Former FMU head coach John Schweitz said of Rivers, “Vony was one of those players, using the coaching cliché, that just gets it. He was an extremely competitive player and practiced as hard as he played. He was also a very dedicated student. He was the kind of person, student and player that all coaches wish they had more of on their teams.”
According to the Globetrotters’ website, Rivers said that to be a Globetrotter means “the opportunity to showcase to the world my love and passion for this game. It also gives me a means through which I can give people a getaway and a chance for complete happiness no matter what they’re going through in their everyday lives.”
Rivers played one season at Erskine College, where he averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game during the 2001-02 season and was named the CVAC Freshman of the Year, prior to transferring to Francis Marion.
He is a graduate of Battery Creek High School.