West Brunswick Hall of Famer Ricky Daniels’ basketball talent took him from Shallotte to NC State and to an international professional career with the Bendigo Braves in Australia, where he settled and raised a family with his wife Brikitta.
That basketball talent was passed down to their three sons, Kai, Dyson and Dash, who have all played for Australian national teams, and has now brought Dyson to the United States where he was selected No. 8 in the 2022 NBA Draft on Thursday, June 23 by the New Orleans Pelicans.
Ricky Daniels and his family have made the trip to America several times over the years to come home and visit his mother, Nancy and siblings Harry, Randy, Tim and Christa, who still make Brunswick County their home.
“Every three or four years, they would come down. But last time Rick was down was the week that COVID hit. They intended to be here for about three or four weeks. And then when COVID hit they were locking the airports down. So they had to find emergency flights to get back to Australia,” Tim said.
But for Thursday night’s special moment, Randy, Christa, Tim and his family headed to Brooklyn to attend the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center.
Oldest brother Harry stayed at home with mom, who watched on TV.
“Mom didn’t go. My mom said, ‘No, I’ll watch it on TV.’ She doesn’t fly,” Tim said.
“She said, ‘no thanks.’ I’m laughing but she would not get on the plane.”
“We called her and we talked with her and Dyson talked with her. She was excited about it, getting that call,” Christa said.
The family had a couple days together while Dyson could only pop in due to his busy schedule during the run-up to the draft. But the whole family was seated nearby to witness his name called eighth overall and then got to celebrate with him at the after-party and spend the day with him Friday once the pressure was off.
Tim said they did catch up with him before the draft.
“We hung out before the draft, we got to, briefly. And then after the draft we went and hung out at an after the draft party they had for Dyson. Somewhere in New York. I forget where we ended up,” Tim said.
“(Thursday before the draft) it was just us being there and running around. We weren’t even with Dyson. We would be somewhere and he would say he’s on his way and then all of a sudden he would call and say, ‘look, my agent called and I need to go here, here and here. He eventually said, ‘catch me here. Come to this location. This is where I’m going to be.’ for those guys it’s a whirlwind,” Tim said.
On draft night, Dyson, his parents and brothers were seated right in front of the cameras and the extended family was not far away to watch the excitement.
“Believe it or not, we were right there in the front row, right there up front. We actually had tables where Dyson was sitting. We had tables but being on the floor trying to see it, it wasn’t really a good view, because you were there and all the cameras were moving. So we actually had seats, basically three rows up from the front,” Tim said.
“It was awesome. It was totally something I never dreamed of going to. Everybody was excited and I was excited and we were waiting to hear his name called. Once we heard his name called it was like, ‘Wow, we’re really here. It’s really happening.’ So it was pretty cool,” Christa said.
Tim added the day after the draft the family had some downtime together.
“He was very busy at first with interviews and everything like that. But we finally got to catch up with him on Friday. So we hung out Friday. He took us out to dinner Friday night. So we got to spend a lot of time with him,” Christa said.
“We did get to spend time and it was an awesome experience. It’s always awesome when me and my brothers and nieces and nephews get together.”
The family is thrilled Dyson was selected by New Orleans.
“New Orleans gives us a chance to get to see a lot more games because it’s closer, on the East Coast,” Tim said.
Randy said knowing Dyson as he grew up over the years he could picture that there was a chance he could make it all the way to the NBA.
“I actually told him when he was like, 12, ‘Man you’re going to be good.’ But there’s only (a few) out of so many that makes it. You hope he makes it but it’s hard because there are so many people that can make it that don’t make it,” Randy said.
Randy added he believed Dyson had a real chance to make it to the NBA when he joined the NBA Global Academy in Australia at 15 years old.
“When he got introduced into the NBA league in Australia when he started playing with grown men over there. That’s when I realized he’s got a chance. When you’re already playing (against) grown men at age 15. Oh yeah, he’ll make it,” Randy said.
Ricky Daniels was unavailable to talk about Dyson and draft night because he and Dash, 14, had to immediately return to Australia where the youngest Daniels is playing in a national tournament.
“Dash, Ricky’s youngest son, he’s in the top 100 in the world in basketball, at 14 years old,” Tim said.
Brian Slattery is the sports editor for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 910-239-7433 or email@example.com.