Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Australia Basketball is trending toward the point of having to cut NBA players from their national team. One young player that figures to be a major part of the country's future plans as they continue on their ascent is current NBA Global Academy enrollee Dyson Daniels. Daniels, the son of former North Carolina State forward and SEABL League player Ricky Daniels, has put colleges on notice with his recent play. The combo guard has multiple alternate routes in front of him as well as he pursues his dream of eventually playing in the NBA. He currently holds offers from Arkansas, Colorado and Saint Mary’s, along with interest from California, Georgia Tech and others.
With Josh Giddey and Mojave King both garnering Next Stars slots for NBL teams this coming year, Daniels could feasibly be next in line. He is keeping his options open, with even Europe and other pro leagues being a possibility moving forward. Right now, his primary focus is on becoming more consistent as a shooter, though there are plenty of elements to really appreciate about Daniels’ game, even as-is. He is a smooth athlete, aggressive defender and can pass on the move. Having turned 17 in March, he has great size for a guard, a real nose for the ball while priding himself on playmaking.
His older brother, Kai, is playing for Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and his father has North Carolina ties, so a move to the United States as part of the 2022 class is very much in play. Still, with his growth over the last year and the work he has put in with the NBA Global Academy, a jump to the pros wouldn’t be unrealistic on his current trajectory. With COVID-19 taking away his opportunity to represent Australia in international competition, Daniels hopes to one day join the Boomer ranks as yet another Australian in the NBA.
In this interview, Daniels talks about his family history, his development, his experience playing across the globe, his growth as a player, his all-time Australian starting 5, how COVID-19 has affected his life and basketball training, plus much more. For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present NBA Global Academy’s Dyson Daniels, from Bendigo, Australia:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your family, where you’re from, and your background?
Dyson Daniels: Yeah. So, I’m originally from a small country town in Australia, in Victoria called Bendigo. I grew up there all my life, and the last year I’ve been living in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport, so I’ve been here for the last year. I have two brothers, who both play basketball. One’s 19 years old, he’ll be going to a D-2 college, and I got a younger one as well who’s 12 who is playing basketball as well. I got my dad, who played for NC State. He came over to Australia after college when he was about 22. He played in the SEABL League here, so he played a lot of years there, with Bendigo, Ballarat, and Nam, a few of my old teams as well. And so, yeah, he’s been a big inspiration to me and taught me a lot of things. And I’ve got mom, who’s originally from Australia, who has a Dutch background. She grew up playing volleyball and tennis and stuff like that. And yeah, my dad’s from America, my mom’s from Australia, and me and my brothers are also from Australia.
PI: Does that mean you still have relatives in the United States on your father’s side still?
DD: Yeah, I’ve got a lot of family over in North Carolina. They live on the coast down there.
PI: So you’ve visited them on summer vacation in the past?
DD: Yeah, I was down there earlier this year actually, around early March, just before the coronavirus started happening. Got to see them, which was good. I hadn’t seen them for like seven or eight years so it was good to catch up.
PI: Prior to NBA Academy where were you playing and how did this opportunity come about for you?
DD: Prior to NBA Academy, I was playing for Bendigo. I made a few Victorian teams. So I was in the Australian championships playing for Victoria. I made the Australian under-15 team as well, which I was able to go play in Oceania over at Papua New Guinea, which was good. I was also playing with the Bendigo men’s team in the NBL-1 league, so I played one year there and then I got picked up by NBA Academy after that. So after my year there, I came here.
PI: How’s life at the NBA Academy? What does a typical day in the life of Dyson Daniels look like?
DD: I really enjoy it here at the NBA Academy, it’s really good. Great coaches, great people. So I go to school five days a week from Monday to Friday, but every day is different. We have three gym sessions a week, usually have like four team practices, like three individual sessions, and then some shooting sessions in between that as well. So it will usually be like a team practice on Monday, and then Tuesday we’ll have individual in the morning and gym session and shooting in the afternoon. And then Wednesday, we’ll have a game on Wednesday in the ACT men’s league, which I play in here. We’ll do a shooting session before that as well. Thursday morning, we’ll have gym, and then that keeps repeating itself.
PI: How would you compare the style of play in Australia vs. the U.S.?
DD: Here in Australia, I feel like the game style is a lot different to the U.S. I feel like it's more ball movement, getting everyone involved, like playing more together as a team; whereas in America, I feel like there’s a lot of individual talent there. I feel like in Australia, it’s a lot more team based than what you play in America, but I feel like when you go over to America, it’s good to play against the competition they have and play against some individual greats rather than more team-based greats. That’s how I see the difference.
PI: Talk about your experience playing in L’Hospitalet Junior Tournament in Spain. How did that differ from what you’ve seen in Australia and in the U.S.?
DD: Yeah, that was really good, going over to play in Europe. That was a really good opportunity for me. We had a really good team we took over there and played against really good teams. I really enjoyed watching the European game style, I feel like that’s a really good team-based game, top style of play. You know, they’re very smart in the way they play. They don’t have the most athletic guys or anything, but they just play smart. They have shooters everywhere. They have good plays, like you’re not expecting screens and stuff like that. I really enjoy watching the way they play. I’d probably say the European style is a bit more similar to the Australian style than what it is to the American style.
PI: Thus far, who’s been the toughest player that you’ve faced?
DD: I’ve had to play against a lot of tough players, naming one would be tough. I’ve played against a lot of men in the NBL-1 League, but probably from the Academy, I’d probably say Tamuri Wigness, who I’ve had to guard. He’s a really small, quick guard who’s really smart with the way he plays. He’s been very hard to guard. But yeah, I cherish the challenge of trying to guard him when I can.