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Local athlete finds success on global stage

Local athlete finds success on global stage
Dillon Pickens of La Vernia shows off the silver medal he won while representing the United States in a basketball tournament held in Austria. Pickens’ team finished second overall to the team from Croatia.

By Dillon Pickens
LVHS graduate

It’s been a fantastic, exciting and unforgettable trip, something I will remember for the rest of my life!

My North American Prospects (NAP) USA teammates (selected from all over the United States -- three from Texas) and I represented our country very well bringing back home a silver medal.

Representing the USA as the starting shooting guard for NAP-USA, we were very fortunate and went undefeated in preliminary bracket play. We came out on top against some very talented European teams, including teams from Italy (49-38), Croatia (53-47), Austria (48-25), and Belgium (63-27). I was very pleased with my performance during the tournament, and I averaged 11 points per game.

During the final phase of the tournament, we defeated a very scrappy Back2Basics team from the United States by the final score of 64-50. By defeating the Back2Basics team, this placed us in the Gold/Silver medal game where we were to play the team we had already defeated from Croatia. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out on top and lost to them by the final score of 79-57. This gave Croatia the gold medal and us the silver. Bronze went to another team from the United States, the NAP Tigers, and the Back2Basics team got fourth place. It was a great showing by the United States!

What a great experience this was, and I’d like to thank all the wonderful people associated with the United World Games, as well as my teammates who played alongside me. I speak for all of them when I say we rocked the city of Klagenfurt, Austria! I’d also like to send out a big thank you to all my teammates, the other teams, athletes, and especially my coach Trey Hendon from Oklahoma State University.

The United World Games is more than just your average worldwide tournament. The games are among Europe’s finest youth sporting events and attract thousands of young athletes from all around the world every year. The vision is to connect young athletes from around the world through their common passion in sports. The unparalleled atmosphere of the games creates countless unforgettable memories among the participants. The enjoyment of sport and an open-minded approach toward the other cultures are the two main elements of the games.

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