TORONTO – Gradey Dick moved his dad to tears on Monday.
The newest Toronto Raptors sharpshooter, chosen 13th overall in the NBA Draft last Thursday, visited his new basketball home over the weekend and was grilled by reporters after a morning workout with head coach Darko Rajaković at the team’s practice facility.
The 19-year-old Dick was asked if he’s had much contact with Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who played collegiately in Dick’s hometown for the Wichita State Shockers.
He said he first met VanVleet as a youngster while working at the school’s summer camp. He added the last piece of memorabilia he would glance at as he left his bedroom was a poster-sized blow-up of a newspaper story on VanVleet with the headline “Undrafted” — a gift from his father.
The story had struck a chord with Dick’s dad, who wanted his son to gain motivation from VanVleet’s basketball journey.
“He’s getting a little emotional,” the 19-year-old Dick said with a smile as he pointed to his father, Bart.
Dick left little doubt about how important family is to him. The confident six-foot-eight, 205-pound teenager credits Bart for his on-court demeanour, the importance of body language and other tricks of the trade.
But Dick also sings the praises of his six-foot-three mother, Carmen, for his shooting ability. She was Iowa State’s 1989 female athlete of the year and still holds school records for the second-best career shooting percentage and most free throws made in a game.
The new Raptors guard/forward also mentioned how much he learned from watching his older brothers Riley and Brodey and older sister Kelsey on and off the court.
“We’re a close-knit family,” Dick said.
Dick drew plenty of attention on draft night when he stepped on stage wearing a red-sequined jacket. He explained the outfit was a tribute to Kansas’s most famous fictional character, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and her red shoes.
He also revealed that he entertained wearing an even more vivid ensemble.
“I could have gone a little crazier,” Dick said. “I kind of toned it down, but it still ended up pretty loud.”
He toned down his style on Monday, wearing a beige pinstriped suit and white T-shirt as he unveiled he will wear No. 1 in Toronto. He donned No. 1 at Sunrise Christian Academy but wore No. 4 in his one-and-done season at the University of Kansas because third-year guard Joseph Yesufu already had possession of No. 1.
Dick and his family arrived in Toronto on Friday evening to familiarize themselves with the city.
On Sunday, he attended the Toronto Blue Jays game and enjoyed that fans across the city swiftly greeted the young athlete with high fives and “Welcome to Toronto.”
“I think I hit the jackpot in being able to come here,” he said.
Dick’s three-point shooting and basketball IQ attracted him to the Raptors.
This fact comes shining through in his opinions on the game. For example, he believes Larry Bird and Steph Curry were two of the all-time best sharpshooters in the game.
Dick also likes to study the skill of Basketball Hall of Famer Reggie Miller and Golden State Warrior guards Klay Thompson and Curry as he continues to work on his craft.
Dick wants to improve his conditioning this summer because he feels the best shooters in the game are in top shape to wear down opposing defenders.
He also has an open mind regarding his role with the Raptors in the fall.
“Confidence comes from preparation,” he said.
“I just want to be the guy that perfects any role he’s given.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2023.
© 2023 The Canadian Press