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Milota's Hoop Dreams

Posted by: Trapper Athletics — November 28, 2014

By MARC LAMBERGER Special to the Tribune
Courtesy of the Powell Tribune

NWC Power Forward Came Here From The Czech Republic

Change, challenge, chance — three words that took up room in Daniel Milota’s life. 

The 20-year-old power forward from the Czech Republic sits on a bench in front of the gym, sweating after a drill. Milota is the only basketball player from Europe playing for the Northwest College men’s basketball team this season. 

It’s a change to play for another continent now. It’s a challenge to get probably the best basketball education in the world. But it is a chance for Milota to work professionally with his passion as well. 

“Basketball is my life,” said Milota, who speaks with an Eastern European accent. “It’s all I have.” 

It took just a few days for Milota to find his favorite place at NWC. Two times a day he practices at Cabre Gym to improve his skills. 

NWC head coach Brian Erickson watched film of Milota playing in his homeland, and eventually recruited him to play for the Trappers. 

“After watching Dan on film, the thing that impressed me most was his work ethic,” Erickson said. “He is a high-character guy who does everything at a high level. That includes in the classroom, in the community and on the court.” 

Milota said it’s a big opportunity to hone his craft in the United States, and added he would like to stay here. 

“I like the United States,” Milota said. “I hope to live here many years.” 

Depending on how his game transitions to the U.S., Milota may be given that chance. So far through nine games (four starts) for NWC, Milota is averaging just over five points per game on 48-percent shooting.

As a freshman, the numbers should not be alarming, as Milota is still learning how the American game plays. And starting with a Nov. 15 contest against Dawson Community College, he showed he may be accelerating up to speed, as he knocked down 5 of 7 field goals with four free throws for a season- high 14 points. He followed that with eight points against Rocky Mountain College’s junior varsity on Nov. 18, and 12 more against the Utah-All Stars on Friday. 

“The style of American and European basketball are different,” Erickson said. ”Dan has done a great job adjusting to Northwest basketball and will keep improving. With his high motor and great work ethic, we are trying to get him to slow the game down and become under control on each possession.” 

Milota is physically strong, which he said he has been since he began playing basketball at the age of 6. Now, he is 6 foot 6 and weighs 220 pounds. His size alone could make him formidable around the rim. 

“He is one of our best if not our best post man with his back to the basket,” Erickson said. “As he keeps learning our system I believe he can be very influential on the offensive end. We expect big things from Dan.”

In addition to his body, he has other strong points, for example jump shots from mid-range. The power forward just throws with his right hand. 

He wants to perfect his technique because he has a vision or rather a dream. He is searching for the highest goal. 

“Dreams? Yeah, I like dreams, I have a lot of them,” Milota said. “One is get to the NBA or Euroleague. I guess that’s the dream of every man who plays basketball on a high level. If I achieve this goal, I go back to my country and buy a big house for my mom.” 

In the next few months he wants to lay the foundation of this goal. 

Change, challenge and chance will serve as his motto for now.