BOULDER – Summer is a time for most college students to kick back and relax, but not if you’re Spencer Dinwiddie. His break was anything but that as he traveled across the world to compete with some of the best college basketball players on the planet. To relax, he returned home for more of the same.
In June, 26 of the nation’s top college players arrived at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with one goal in mind: representing the United States in the World University Games. Dinwiddie would achieve that goal, becoming one of 12 players selected for the games held in July in Kazan, Russia.
“Playing for your country is the highest honor you can achieve,” Dinwiddie said. “It was great to throw on a USA jersey.”
Dinwiddie joined an impressive list of college standouts, including the 2013 Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, Luke Hancock (Louisville); two-time All-American Doug McDermott (Creighton) and others.
Although the level of competition varied, most teams featured professional players on their rosters. Russia, the eventual Gold medal winner, was led by Sergey Karasev, who was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 19th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Either way, Dinwiddie had no trouble fitting in. He finished the tournament leading all teams in assists as Team USA’s starting point guard.
All competitors were in close proximity during their two-week stay in Kazan’s Olympic Village, allowing them to interact and get to know one another. Engaging with athletes from different countries and building a tight bond with his teammates were certainly highlights of the trip for Dinwiddie.
He described playing for Team USA as one of his best basketball experiences ever – and already has an admirable list that includes winning a Pac-12 Tournament championship and making two NCAA Tournament appearances.
“The USA experience was second-to-none; it’s something I would do again in a heartbeat,” Dinwiddie said. “You get a lot of pride playing for your country and you understand that it’s not always the most talented players that make it but the best players that will fit the team. So, it’s an honor to be considered in both of those categories.”
Leadership is a quality needed on any team, but no more so than this year on a Buffs team that will feature six freshmen. With this in mind, Dinwiddie embraced the University Games as a chance to better himself as a leader.
“It taught me how to manage time and how to direct a little bit better,” Dinwiddie explained. “I was able to learn from some other players as well: Luke Hancock was a leader of the national championship team; Doug McDermott has been an All-American two out of the three years he’s been in college. You learn how other great players go about their business.”
Leading a CU team that Dinwiddie believes might have the most overall talent since he’s been here is something he eagerly anticipates. “I’ve definitely grown as a leader,” he said. “So, that will be very beneficial for our team this season. And just learning how to manage a team with more talent is key because that’s something we have this year.”
Almost as soon as Dinwiddie returned to the U.S. he was back in action competing against more top-tier talent at the Adidas Nations camp in his hometown of Los Angeles. He is trying to advance his game in every aspect as he looks forward to his junior campaign at CU and what could be his final season in Boulder.
All of Dinwiddie’s court success is bringing high accolades, and some experts peg the 6-6 point guard as a lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft. If that is the case, Dinwiddie has determined he will forego his senior season.
The Adidas Nations camp only furthered those expectations as Dinwiddie showed off his skill for dozens of NBA scouts. According to the feedback he received at the end of the camp, Dinwiddie “turned a lot of heads.”
Dinwiddie believes he has proven himself in terms of being ready to compete at the next level, but right now he’s putting all his energy into making this his most special season at CU. He said his only concern is helping the Buffs win games this year – a lot of them.
“My total focus is to win,” Dinwiddie said. “The more we win, the less it is about my stats because I will have taken a team to that promise land, which is my goal. I don’t see why we can’t sweep both the (Pac-12) season championship, and the conference championship.”