Franklin Pierce

Paul Dick: ‘There’s never a boring moment’

“It’s a transition being back”

So, the last time you heard from me not too much had happened. The last few weeks have just been practice, practice, and more practice. We have had two scrimmages this past week. Practice has been cool. Our team is deep, so it’s always really competitive and the majority of the practice is live stuff. We’re always getting up and down the floor trying to put ourselves in game situations –

There’s never a boring moment.

Our first scrimmage was against Dartmouth. Although we won by three, we felt like it was a team we should beat by a lot more. Our team performance was solid but there was plenty of room for improvement. Personally, I didn’t show up for the game. I came off the bench as 6th man and contributed just two points. I found it hard to get into the game, but I’m putting that one down to nerves. I was also a little mad about coming off-the-bench but that might be my role this year and I will have to learn to adapt to it – for a while, at least.

The second scrimmage wasn’t as competitive. We played a D3 team from Boston and won comfortably.  As it was a scrimmage we were running everyone in and out every few minutes: I didn’t see that much action. I came off-the-bench again and was a little bit better than the first scrimmage, contributing 11 points with a nice little dunk on the break. I’m happy I’m making progress. After not playing a real game for 2 years, the transition of playing team basketball again is the biggest obstacle at the moment. I think it’ll take a few games to get my mind sharp again, to compete at game standard. However, I’m still very excited for the season.

We open up next Friday at home against another top D2 team. It will be a good game. More importantly than all that though is how dominant my fantasy NBA team is looking. I’m only a few days off my first victory against my old Belfast Star and St Malachy’s teammate, Matthew ‘’Superstar’’ Jackson. I cant’t wait to collect my winnings next summer!

“Jackson’s face when he loses our NBA Fantasy team comp”
(Photo: Sportsfile)

You will hear from me again soon. I hope all is good back home.

Paul was the first player featured on The Courtside Collective; he is currently one of only two players from N.I. playing college basketball in the USA. Paul attends Franklin Pierce, a Division 2 school in New England, and is on a full scholarship. He spent last year as a ‘red-shirt’, missing out on an entire season due to a serious foot injury. This year he is back in action and the sky is the limit for the former St Malachy’s College baller. We are happy to have Paul onboard as a regular contributor.

Read Paul’s bio at Franklin Pierce

Paul Dick: ‘Pre-Season is tough over here!’

I’m back in America after a short visit home, which was great. A big shout-out to Mike Calo and Paddy Junior McGaharan for training with me for the past month.

“I’m excited to see what I can do…”

Pre season is tough over here! We have 7am conditioning every morning, which is consists of us doing the insanity workout. I don’t know if they have it at home but it’s basically involves watching this monster on a screen doing an hour long workout that’s pretty much non-stop. Then we have team lifting with some individual workouts during the day and then pick-up games at night! Pick-up’s great because our coach made a rule defense calls fouls – I haven’t committed one foul in three weeks! I might have to start being a little more generous though because one of the guys on our team knocked out another because he wasn’t calling anything! [Editor: Ouch]

After not playing a full season for two years, I’m really excited to play this year. Now that I’m healthy, I’m ready to give it 100% and really see what I can do. We have 9/11 players returning this season. Last season, our team was ranked number one in our region, won the conference regular season and was ranked 24th in the country. So, there are big expectations on us this year. We’re starting the season off with a scrimmage against the Ivy league team Monmouth. So, that should be interesting to see how many we spank a D1 team by! Haha. I’m joking! It’ll be a nice challenge to have but it’s a pity we weren’t playing a different ivy league team like UPenn. Then I could play against the infamous Keelan Cairns!

I’ll definitely be putting up a lot more posts this year to keep you updated on how the team is doing and maybe I’ll even get the TCC shirt that was ‘posted’ last September! [Editor: Royal Mail have been contacted regarding this misplaced package. Stay strong, Paul]

 –

Paul was the first player featured on The Courtside Collective; he is currently one of only two players from N.I. playing college basketball in the USA. Paul attends Franklin Pierce, a Division 2 school in New England, and is on a full scholarship. He spent last year as a ‘red-shirt’, missing out on an entire season due to a serious foot injury. This year he is back in action and the sky is the limit for the former St Malachy’s College baller. We are happy to have Paul onboard as a regular contributor.

Read Paul’s bio at Franklin Pierce

Paul Dick: Redshirtin’

Paul - Franklin Pierce Ravens

I promised The Courtside Collective ages ago that I would do a blog but I’ve been boycotting the site due to a lack of pictures of myself. However, I decided to put my ego aside only for the fact that I am going to get a free t-shirt out of it.

So, I’ve been back in the states now for about two months and it’s been a long & boring time. Waking up to go to 7.30am practices every morning is pretty dull; especially when I have to sit and watch it from the sideline. It’s not all bad though; my team is doing really well. On Tuesday, we won the conference regular season for the first time in the school’s history (along with the first winning season in 10 years). Finishing in last place in the conference the previous year, I don’t think anyone expected we would be in the position we are in now. In the most recent polls, we have been ranked #1 in our region for D2 basketball. There are only four regions in the whole of America so it’s mental that we have been rated so highly. This weekend the conference playoffs are starting, which is exciting because if [Editor: I think you meant to write, ‘when’] we win I get one of those shiny championship rings.

My rehab is going well. I’m forcing myself to take it slow and i’m definitely starting to see the benefits. I think that this is the first injury I’ve had that I haven’t rushed back from, and re-injured myself. The disappointment from making that mistake last year, which lead to me having to miss out on almost my entire freshman year, has disciplined me to pace myself. I hope to start practicing in the next two weeks but by that time we could be travelling all over the place chasing some more bling. I actually don’t know if ‘redshirts’ even get a ring if the team wins. Hopefully, I’ll be able to win my own one next year.

Asides from basketball, everything else is ridiculously boring. When I tell people where I go to school, the usual response I get is – ‘never heard of it.’ I’m not surprised because it must be the smallest school in America. Even on my busted feet, I could probably run around the whole campus in five minutes. Unfortunately, since i went home last semester, I have to stay here for summer school. So, I’m not going to be making it back to Belfast until August for a few weeks. I actually haven’t told my Mum this yet, so hopefully she doesn’t read this until i get a chance to tell her [Editor: Pretty sure, Coach Breda is a regular].

The Courtside Collective is definitely something I appreciate. It gives me a place where I can keep up-to-date with all that’s going on back home. I am sure we would all agree that the one thing the site is missing is a Mike Calo section but nothing’s perfect, right? I’m looking forward to seeing some more highlights of Belfast Star & Ulster Rockets getting a few more wins to finish the season!

Paul was the first player featured on The Courtside Collective; he is currently one of only two players from N.I. playing college basketball in the USA. Paul attends Franklin Pierce, a Division 2 school in New England, and is on a full scholarship. He has spent the past year as a ‘red-shirt’, missing out on an entire season due to a serious foot injury. We are happy to have Paul onboard as a regular contributor. 

Read Paul’s bio at Franklin Pierce


Point guard: Paul Dick


Paul Dick is arguably one of the greatest players to come out of Northern Ireland. Having played for basketball powerhouse St Malachy’s College Belfast, he later spent a year at a prep school in the U.S. and is now on scholarship in the States at Franklin Pierce (NCAA D2). Although injuries have him sidelined, he remains focused on rehabilitation and getting back on top.

The Story

For many of us, injuries can be a nuisance. The physical limitations which prevent us from our daily tasks can be overwhelmingly frustrating; taking us an extra few minutes to get into work, preventing us from hitting the town or, heaven forbid, forcing us to miss a game of squash (stay with me… I’m going somewhere with this).
Paul Dick, a 20-year-old in the prime of his life (not to mention his basketball career), is stuck to a reclining red leather arm-chair in the living room of his family home in Belfast, with two metal poles by his sides, watching Mad Men, series 3… in its entirety. His trapped state is exemplified in a recent online update,

‘Here’s the situation; watching 24 and Jack’s about to save the day, but the battery’s in the DVD remote are broke and my crutches are at the other end of the room and my knee’s too sore to crawl on from I don’t know what…so anyone want to come over to put on the next episode? #seriousrequest’

What should Paul be tweeting right now? I’d imagine it would be something like this; ‘Just dropped 18 points and dished out 5 assists. #breakingankles’

 Pre-Game

Paul Scoring against Emory (Atlanta, NCAA D3)

Paul is currently receiving a full scholarship from Franklin Pierce; an NCAA Division 2 school in New England. “It’s actually a crazy story how I got there…” No kidding. And, we’ll get to that. But let’s start with the pre-game.

Basketball is in Paul’s DNA. His father, Francis, was an Irish Superleague player back in the 80’s while Breda, Paul’s mother, grew up in Dublin and was among one of the founding members of the notably successful Killester Basketball Club. Paul describes his first experience of basketball as a youngster in St Anne’s Primary School: “My mum ran a programme there. Then I moved onto Queen’s [Basketball Club] on Saturday mornings.” Although Paul tried his hand at Gaelic games, swimming and football, he prioritised his commitment to basketball recognising his love and talent for the game. (However, Paul’s sister informed me that he used to dream that he could be Like Mike… Michael Flatley that is!)

Winning the trophy for St Malachy's College

At the age of 11, When it came to deciding which high school Paul should attend, it was obvious he would join his father’s alma mater, St Malachy’s College; perhaps the best high school basketball programme in Ireland, with the silverware to prove it. It would be here that Paul would develop his skill set and knowledge of the game under the guidance of two veteran coaches; former Irish International, Adrian Fulton, and the Gandalf of Irish School’s basketball, Paul McCrory.

Comeback Kid

When I asked Paul to describe his favourite on-court moment, he shared a story of playing overseas with his old school team in the World High School Championships (2007); telling his own classic version of David and Goliath… well, almost.

“It was our first game against Slovakia. This team averaged probably 6’6 and I was our tallest player. We were up by about 7 points the whole game but then with 5 seconds left we were down by 3. They had the ball at the top of the key and Doc [Michael Dougherty] angled his player right into me. I knew Doc was going to do this; so I stepped up and stole the ball at our free-throw line. I was dribbling up the court with 3 seconds left, took two dribbles over the half-court line and just let it fly [Gets excited]. It went in! I went crazy and ran over to the fans, started my pounding my chest and stuff and then… we lost in Overtime. [Laughs]”

Father & Son: Paul and Francis

The American Dream

However, it was during another high school basketball trip, this time across the Atlantic, as a 17-year-old he would come to realise his desire to play in the US.

“…we were playing this inner city team in New York and at that time I was thinking of joining the [Irish] Superleague to play there. But, we played this one team and I played pretty well. Their coach had won an NCAA Championship with UConn. He pulled me over after the game and just talked with me, encouraging me to come over and play in the states. We travelled around and played different schools and some of them were interested in me in coming there to play. That made me lean towards wanting to go. I came home and started talking to my Dad about it.”

Finding an American prep school for Paul would prove challenging, testing both his commitment to the dream and his Father’s perseverance in helping a son achieve his goals. Georgetown Prep, a school in Philadelphia and another in North Carolina were all considered as possibilities but each of these options (plus a few others) fell through. As Paul’s friends were deciding on which universities in Ireland and the UK to attend, he found himself losing hope on his ambition of playing ball in the U.S.

“It was around the 20th August (2009) and I’d kind of given up on going to America to play. I was working for my Dad in his factory and he called me into the office. He said, ‘I think you need to go and get a visa tomorrow; I think I’ve got you a school.’ I was like, ‘alright.’ [Smiles]”

Within four days Paul was in the U.S; joining Bridgton Academy, a prep school in Maine, New England. However, there were some minor details he didn’t discover until he actually got there. The fact that he was moving to another all-boys school was not one of those minor details.

“I was disgusted [laughs].”

Much in the clutch

That wasn’t the only problem he faced that year. In December (2009), during his year in prep school, Paul suffered an injury (a broken right foot) that would prove costly as he focused on taking the next step – U.S. College Basketball. Paul looked to advance from Bridgton, a top basketball prep school, to an equally high level programme at the Division 1 level in the NCAA.

“I had been playing well at the start of the year but after Christmas, it just started to go downhill. I was hoping to go play at a higher level. Franklin Pierce wasn’t my first option. Those other schools started to lose interest as I was playing worse.”

It was the ‘4th quarter’ and Paul was feeling the pressure; he had already booked flights home, where he would then have to go through a late application to attend university at home. It wasn’t until after the season, around April (2010) Paul was offered an invitation to visit Franklin Pierce and later accepted a full scholarship.

Paul is now mid-way through his 2nd year ‘playing’ college basketball in the U.S., how is he performing?

“I haven’t played yet. Last season, I was recovering and tried to play a few games but they didn’t go well at all. I didn’t play the rest of that year [2010-2011]. Then, when I went back in September [2011], I had broken my other foot… “

Ouch. Not again.

Having broken his foot during his prep school days, Paul would have to face the consequences of another broken foot – this time the other one! Can you imagine? Forget about the squash game. This is NCAA college basketball. We are talking about an athlete (no offence squash players) who has trained for years to reach this level only to be told he is going to have to wait it out, again. How do you deal with that?

“I’m coping [Smiles]. I just have to stay positive. I have the confidence since my last foot healed perfectly. It’s just a matter of time. I just have to be patient.”

What’s next?

 “Get healthy and have a good season. I like to score the basketball so I’d like to average a nice number. Have a good time and enjoy college life.”

Paul is content where he is (for now) but is looking forward to getting back on the court (no, not the squash court). In the meantime, he is happy to be home with family and friends. Finally, for all those young players that want to aspire to playing college basketball, Paul has some tips for you:

“The biggest thing is to round your game. Being from Ireland, we’re not the most naturally quick, can’t jump the highest and so, you can’t float by with a mediocre shot or a mediocre handle…Never mind dunking it…”

 No dunking? No problem.