“I never ever thought I could be here and be part of something like this, but here I am. How lucky is that? It doesn’t get better than this. I thank God for giving me the talent to play so I could be here.”
Dean made 11 of 13 shots at the Danville camp to win his spot in the Big Blue Madness competition. He wore his camp T-shirt that was autographed by Calipari, Scott Padgett, Josh Harrellson and Jon Hood during the camp.
“When I practiced, I usually wore the T-shirt and I did really good. So I thought it might be a little luck,” Dean said.
Dean will be trying out for the Mercer sixth-grade team this week.
“We have tryouts, but I know the coach pretty well. I hope that helps,” he said.
What could help more is his work ethic. Because Mercer was on fall break last week, his family was on vacation in Orlando. Every day he spent time shooting free throws on an outside goal.
“It probably didn’t help me tonight that I was practicing outside and not in a a gym, but that’s the best I could do. Maybe I should have practiced more,” he said.
His parents, Robin and Hadden Dean, cut the vacation short by a day so he could come back to participate in Big Blue Madness. He says his brother, Luke, 9, and sister, Abby, 7, didn’t seem to mind because they also got to come to Madness with him and his parents.
“They were excited just to come, but they did wish me good luck. My friends did, too. Everybody was pulling for me,” he said.
Dean’s only regret was that he didn’t make every shot — or at least one more to advance to the final competition.
“I’ll be thinking about those shots I missed all night and what I should have done to make them,” he said. “I’ll probably think about that all night, or maybe longer. I am excited to see everything that will go on tonight, but more than anything I wanted to win the contest — or at least make more shots.”