THE Bendigo basketball community is buzzing with excitement and anticipation as homegrown talent Dyson Daniels closes in on his NBA dream.
The former Bendigo Braves junior, who also played an NBL1 senior season with the club in 2019, is touted as one of the likely lottery picks at next week's NBA Draft.
The Internet is stacked with constantly changing NBA mock drafts, the latest having 19-year-old guard Daniels - who is coming off a season with the Ignite in the NBA G League - as a selection anywhere from the Detroit Pistons at No.5 to the Cleveland Cavaliers at No.14.
It's seemingly a case of where, not if, Daniels will get drafted to and while he faces an anxious wait to learn his fate at the Draft in Brooklyn, so too is it for parents Ricky and Brikkita, who have ridden the journey with Dyson - the middle of their three boys between eldest Kai and youngest Dash.
With the NBA Draft in Brooklyn's Barclays Centre next Friday (Australian time), LUKE WEST caught up with Braves' legend Ricky and Brikkita about the family's excitement at what lays ahead and the journey Dyson has been on.
LW: Not long to go now, how is the family feeling a week out from the NBA Draft?
RD: "There's a few nerves there and I'm sure there are a lot for Dyson too.
"It's getting closer and we'll all find out at the same time."
LW: Ricky, you've got a strong basketball pedigree as one of the greats of the Bendigo Braves. Was basketball always a sport Dyson had shown tremendous potential in from his early years?
RD: "We basically put a ball in the boys' hands at a very young age as you do with most kids and they work it out."
BD: "There's three boys with Kai (20), Dyson (19) and Dash (14), so it was always great for competitiveness against each other in the backyard.
"They have all definitely learned off each other and those battles in the backyard have helped all of them.
"As parents you don't expect anything like this, you just take the ride with him and do your best to put him in the right position.
"Nothing was ever daunting for Dyson, he never said no to anything, be it the move he made (joining the NBA Global Academy in Canberra as a 16-year-old), the training, the discipline.
"There has been lots of tournaments, lots of miles in the car and we've loved doing it because it's what he wanted to do."
LW: Can either of you pinpoint a moment when it hit home that Dyson's NBA dream could become a reality?
RD: "I don't know if there was any particular moment, it just gradually kept building."
BD: "I think it started to become real when he started with the G League Ignite (signed in June last year) and he was in the right place to be really looked at.
"Then it was about three months in at Ignite when talk of Dyson's skills really started and he was measuring up with NBA players that it home this could be real... that was for me."
RD: "That was when most of the buzz started when he was in the G League because he was in front of NBA executives and everyone who matters that makes those (drafting) decisions.
"He also had international commitments, which allowed scouts to keep their eyes on him, but when he got to the G League they were able to see more of him in that environment."
BD: "Then we started getting a lot of calls from prospective agents, so that was another surreal moment when we realised there was some real interest out there."
LW: It's obviously a huge career decision signing with an agent. How did you guide Dyson through that process?
RD: "We basically took our time to ask a lot of questions and get it down to a handful before Dyson made a final decision."
BD: "Usually you would get agents who would fly in and meet face-to-face and that's what we would have preferred, but it was during COVID, so there were a lot of Zoom calls.
"It was a learning process for us as parents and as we went along we learned better questions to ask and what mattered and we'd share our ideas with Dyson and he inevitably made the final decision of who he went with.
"Dyson ended up going with Daniel Moldovan, who is Australian and has been an agent for a long time."
RD: "He has quite a few NBL clients here as well. There were some people we knew who really spoke highly of Daniel, but in the end it was Dyson who had to make the choice of who he felt he could work with."
LW: Watching on, how do you feel Dyson performed with the Ignite in the G League this past season?
RD: "I thought he had a very good season. He started off a bit rough, but the great thing is you could see the growth and the scouts like to see that, especially at a young age."
BD: "What I saw in Dyson is what I've seen in him every time he was the underdog because he has always been a bottom-ager in every team he has played in.
"He comes in as that underdog, gets a feel for it and then before you know it with his competitive nature and dedication he becomes a top player.
"He has done that right from every junior tournament he has played and we saw that as well with the G League Ignite when it took a bit of time to find his feet and then three months later he'd found his stride."
NOTE - Daniels averaged 11.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals in 14 games for the Ignite, while he also played in the Rising Stars game at NBA All-Star weekend in February.
LW: There has also been the chance for Dyson to show his wares at the NBA Draft Combine. Now I guess it's a case of wait and see come draft day.
RD: "It has been a great experience to see all the moving parts in the background that you probably thought you'd never get to see."
BD: "He's right in the thick of it now and he's really good at just taking it all as it comes."
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