By Cait Kemp
As the Sunrise Christian Academy basketball team warmed up for its game against Wasatch Academy, Gradey Dick, wearing No. 1, skillfully ran through his layup lines. He is technical, reserved, and focused.
Pretty soon, the showmanship comes out as he slams down a dunk, and then another. He finds himself behind the arc and drains a deep three from the wing. Gradey Dick is an all-around player, and his versatility has helped him gain offers from some of the best programs in the nation.
Dick hails from Wichita, Kansas and attends Sunrise Christian Academy — which is practically in his backyard. After graduating in the spring of this year, he will stay close to home to compete for the University of Kansas Jayhawks. Dick is the type of kid that has his heart at home, and with the opportunity to play for one of the powerhouse basketball programs, it was a no brainer to stay close.
The University of Kansas is one of the most successful collegiate programs in the country. They have five national championships and have the most conference titles in the nation. Some of the biggest NBA names went through Kansas’ basketball program, like Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, and Andrew Wiggins. Of course, James Naismith himself taught and coached at Kansas after he left Springfield College.
It is a basketball school through-and-through, and is the place to be for those who love the game.
“The big advantage I had obviously is being from Kansas, so I had opportunities to go to Lawrence a lot. Actually, I had three siblings go through the school so I was up there a lot of the weekends and going to games,” said Dick. “It wasn’t until my recruitment that I could see the behind the scenes stuff with recruitment and how they play, so once I learned all that I knew it was where I wanted to be.”
Dick, No. 25 ESPN 100 ranking of high school players, is clearly a basketball player. Standing at 6-foot-7, his long arms and legs power him through to pass, shoot and score. The game comes naturally to him.
No matter how natural it may come, though, he has had no choice but to work hard. His dream was to be great, and throughout his journey he has surely already accomplished that.
“This was my dream for the longest, I mean growing up I always wanted to be on that recruitment scene, watching videos of those older guys doing the same thing and the fact that I kind of get to be in that same position is huge and I’m thankful for that,” said Dick.
Dick put on a show over the course of the two games Sunrise Christian played at the 2022
Spalding Hoophall Classic presented by Eastbay. In an overtime victory over Combine Academy, he put up 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and added two steals and an assist. In another tight game the next day against Wasatch Academy, he contributed 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal to cap off his weekend in Blake Arena.
“He’s fearless as a player. He’s never afraid of the moment. The bigger the stage, the bigger he plays, so he obviously was a big piece for us last year, but he’s carried us this year,” said Sunrise Christian head coach, Luke Barnwell. “We kind of need someone who has that supreme confidence in his ability, and everybody kind of feeds off him.”
Barnwell credits Dick for a lot of the team dynamic that Sunrise Christian has been able to develop over the course of the season. His calm demeanor and desire to push his teammates leads them to succeed in every opportunity they get.
“I’m pretty lucky because I can challenge him, I can scream at him and really push him and it never affects our relationship, he never pouts so I think that’s pretty special,” said Barnwell.
Dick’s leadership on and off the court has helped his team to become the number one ranked school in the nation, an exciting and impressive feat.
However, Dick is no stranger to feats such as this. He is also a gold medalist.
This past summer at the FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup in Hungary, Dick and three other high-profile high school prospects competed for USA Basketball, turning in a 6-0 record and winning the tournament.
“It was a special experience, it’s a 3-on-3 tournament so they kind of just picked three guys based on what they were looking for — versatility to do all different things because when you’re in 3-on-3 you can’t really just be good at one thing,” said Dick. “You’re going to have to play multiple positions so to get picked out of four guys in the country was a big compliment.”
Dick already has a resume some would dream of, yet he’s only 18. He has big things to come as he graduates and will enroll at Kansas in the fall. There’s no doubt eyes will be on him as he steps on the court for the first time as a Division I college basketball player. The stage may be bigger, but his skills will only grow with it.
Photo by Joe Arruda/The Student