Daniel Dillon interview

Arizona shocked a lot of people when it was revealed that they received a commitment from Australian guard Daniel Dillon. Dillon was a total unknown in recruiting circles, but the youngster comes highly recommended by those who saw him play in Australia. We caught up with Daniel at his coach's house several hours after signing his letter-of-Intent.

Before Tuesday afternoon, few outside of London, Kentucky and the Wildcat basketball office had heard of Daniel Dillon. By Tuesday night Wildcat fans all over the country were wondering just what was Lute Olson up to. Now fans are hoping that Olson has uncovered another recruiting gem to go with the likes of Steve Kerr and Gilbert Arenas.

Dillon had a small signing ceremony at North Laurel High School in London where he is an exchange student. North Laurel has sent a few players to small schools the past couple of seasons, but this time they have a player going Division-I.

"It was pretty exciting," Dillon confessed. "I have never done anything like this. There were a few newspaper writers, probably three of them and a few of the coaches."

Dillon has only been in America for a few months and did not go through the normal summer recruiting gauntlet. The Wildcats learned of him through Lute Olson's vast recruiting contacts and were able to keep a lid on his recruitment, allowing Dillon to slip by any and all other schools.

Truth be told, Olson has never seen Dillon play in person, but has seen him on video and seemed to trust the evaluations of his Aussie contacts.

"They found video of me," Dillon said, not knowing exactly when the Cats learned of him. "I guess Coach Olson has good friends in Australia. They told them about me and he talked to my coach about me coming to Arizona."

Dillon has yet to play for his high school team in America. His on-court exposure to American basketball is limited, but he has spent a good deal of time watching it on television. From his short time here he has a definite grasp on how the two countries differ in terms of hardwood style.

"Compared to America, Australian basketball is more fundamental," Dillon explained. "The American game has a lot more speed. My team in Australia was a bit different from most teams down there. We were running and pushing the ball down the floor. Our system was similar to Arizona's structure of pushing the ball."

Australian players have had good success in America, but most of them have been big men. Players like Chris Antsey, Luc Longley and Andrew Vlahov have had solid college and pro careers in the paint. A few guards have come here to play, but what few have made it have been shooters. Dillon is one of the first athletic, playmakers to come from Australia.

"It's pretty much an honor to get to go to a top-5 school as a guard from Australia," Dillon confessed.

Another Australian guard that made an impact in America was former Seton Hall standout Andrew Gaze. Gaze was a key performer for P.J. Carlisimo's Pirates and had a short stint in the NBA.

"He was a big deal for a long time," said Dillon. "He played with the Spurs for a time, I believe."

Dillon lived next to the man who arranged the Wildcats' trips to Australia and according to Olson, Dillon has been wearing Arizona gear since he was six. The Wildcats went to Australia before the 1998 season and again in the summer of 2000. The last time there Dillon got to see the Cats compete.

He says that American college basketball is not huge in Australia, but that it is on cable for those who want to watch it.

"Basketball fans down there pretty much know about Arizona," Dillon said. "It (college basketball) is not that big down here, but you can see it on cable. A lot of people know and respect Coach Olson."

Dillon moved from his town near Melbourne to London. The small Kentucky town is 70 miles south of Lexington and as you might guess its residents are crazy about basketball. Dillon is still getting used to just how much the people of the Bluegrass State love their hoops." "I know from talking to people that they love basketball," Dillon said. "In Australia we don't get that many people for a game. But I've seen video and they have thousands of fans for a high school basketball game. It's crazy."

Dillon is having fun but it has not been an entirely easy transition. Being so far from home, in a different environment can take some getting used to.

"It's been an adjustment," said Dillon. "I feel I've made a pretty good adjustment since I've been here for a little over two months. I'm getting along pretty well and the people are good and nice."

Ironically enough, an Australian pro team was in Tucson to face the Wildcats the night Dillon signed. Dillon could have many goals, NBA, Olympics or the Australian pro league. He hasn't ruled any of them out at this point. Arizona players have flourished in Australia, but everyone knows Olson's reputation for developing NBA guards.

"I plan on pretty much working on my skills and we'll see what happens," Dillon said, not really tipping his hand as to what his future goals are.

Regardless of the path he chooses, it is a safe best that in either 2004 or 2008, Dillon is on the Australian Olympic team. Dillon has already competed with a 16 and under team at the national sports festival and several coaches feel he could be the most athletic point guard to come from Australia.

Interestingly enough the Cats aren't the only one's in this scenario to commit sight unseen. Just as Olson has never seen Dillon play, Dillon in turn has never been to Arizona. That will be remedied shortly.

"Hopefully I'll visit in December," Dillon said.

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