CARBONDALE (WSIL) – SIU men's basketball recently added another piece to their 2020 roster.
The Salukis added Urbana High School guard Chris Cross as a priority walk-on.
The Cross name speaks volumes in Carbondale. And with a full name like Chris Cross, it grabs your attention and so does his game.
“A lot of people who are just getting to know me, ask me if that's really my name, and I have to tell them, 'Yeah, that's really my name,” Cross said. “It's really a unique name, and I've embraced it. Most people don't call me by my first name, when everybody speaks of me they say my full name, they just call me Chris Cross.”
Although spelled differently, if you're my age, when you hear Chris Cross you immediately think of the hip hop duo from the early 1990s. And I'm not the only one to point out the reference to the future Saluki.
“Yeah, I hear it a lot, especially in my younger years, so that is something I hear very often. Yeah, it got old a long time ago, a real long time ago, that's when it got old.”
Chris also embraces his roots. The Cross family produced a lot of great athletes at Carbondale High. His dad played at the University of Illinois, and his uncle Dan led Florida to the 1994 Final Four.
“All of my family came from Carbondale. All of my uncles and my dad played for Carbondale High School, and my grandfather was an assistant principal at Carbondale High School. My uncle Josh played at SIU. He's an alumni there, so I've basically been in Carbondale throughout my younger years before my family commuted to Florida. So I'm not only ready to prove to make a name for myself, but I'm ready to bring back my family name to the city of Carbondale as well.”
Chris reached out to his Uncle Joshua to find out what it's like to be a Saluki.
“Knowing my uncle Joshua played there is very exciting and hoping to be the type of player he was and even better. I've seen film. I was kind of too young to see him play. He was very excited for me and telling me what to expect and telling me to go get it. Nothing is free, nothing has been free for me. I've always had to get it out of the mud, just ready to work really.“
Chris enters with a chip on his shoulder but certainly has the right attitude.
“It's amazing knowing I have an opportunity to play division one basketball and just excited to get to work and prove myself really.”
“Done everything I possibly could and got the results I wanted, but through my recruitment process I was overlooked by a lot of schools, and Coach Mullins gave me the best opportunity to live out my college dreams at the division one level.”
Chris led Urbana to back-to-back regional titles and averaged nearly 15 points, 7 rebounds a game. For fans who have never seen him play before, here’s what to expect.
“I'm a team first player. Very selfless. I put the team before me always, and I'm going to do what's best for the team before what's best for me always. So whatever role I have to take, whether it's a leader on the bench. I bring energy, I'm a great talker, and am a leader on and off the floor. Whatever role Coach Mullins gives me the first year in is the role I'll do to perfection. Whether it's to score, whether it's to pass the ball, whether it's to bring toughness to the team, whether it's bring energy to the bench, I'm ready to do whatever it takes.”