Dillon acclimating to Arizona

Daniel Dillon has been in the United States for less than a week, but so far so good. The Australian guard is in Tucson to get acclimated to the University both as a basketball player and a student. Summer school and pick-up basketball has been on the agenda for one of the least known Wildcats.

Arizona coaches pulled a fast one on those that follow recruiting when just days before signing day it slipped out that the Cats were going to sign an Australian living in Kentucky.

Although we heard how good Dillon was, we had no idea exactly what he was like. After watching him play in pick-ups and the new Tucson Summer Pro League it is apparent that Dillon is exactly as advertised. He's quick, strong and has a nice feel for the game. He's also capable of playing both guard spots, just as the Arizona coaches claimed.

"I am a true combo-guard," Dillon explained. "In Australia I played the one, the two and the three. In Kentucky I played both the one and the two. Here I'll play mostly the one because all we have is me and Mustafa (Shakur) and maybe Chris (Rodgers)." One thing you quickly notice about Dillon is that he's much stronger than most freshmen. Dillon began lifting this past year in Kentucky, but arrived in the States being naturally strong. He uses that strength down low. He's able to battle for boards and power his way to the rim.

"Down low I have a mismatch with my strength," Dillon said.

Dillon has been in Tucson for less than two weeks and seems to have taken an instant liking to the Old Pueblo.

"It's good, I like the heat," Dillon laughed. "It snows in Kentucky, so I like the heat."

Dillon has not played basketball in awhile. While he was originally cleared to play in London, KY as a foreign exchange student, midway through the year he was ruled ineligible when opposing coaches charged that he was recruited by the staff at North Laurel High School. The layoff has not hurt his game, but he's happy to get on the court against any type of competition.

The level of competition at the Summer Pro League may not rival the Pac-10, but Dillon is impressed with the players that made the cut.

"It's a lot better than the players in high school," Dillon said. "Here you've got old NBA players and guys coming back from Europe.

"It's good enough to get a workout," Dillon went on. "After the missing half the season playing any ball helps."

Dillon teamed in the Summer Pro League with Miles Simon, a player that made him want to come to Arizona in the first place. In the summer of 1997 Simon and the national champion Wildcats took a tour of Australia, including a stop in Dillon's hometown of Melbourne.

As the story goes, Dillon's next door neighbor was the person who organized the Wildcats' tour of Australia. When he signed his letter of intent Lute Olson told the media that thanks to his neighbors, Dillon had been wearing Wildcat gear since he was just a little kid.

In just a few months Dillon will be wearing a Wildcat uniform for real.


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