HOLCOMB — Perhaps it would be easy to dismiss a high school athlete who finally reaches a lifetime goal.
It happens every year, in almost every sport.
Whether it’s winning state championships, or in this case, earning an NCAA Division I scholarship, finally seeing a dream come true simply is hard to believe.
So it just might be that the pursuit of a childhood dream, which seemed so far away just six years ago, means just a little more to Holcomb’s Kobe Dickson.
Dickson, a 6-9, 220-pound center/forward for the Longhorns basketball team the past three seasons, realized that dream with a final signing of his name to a national letter-of-intent Wednesday afternoon at the HHS gym before a gathering of teammates, classmates, school officials and community supporters where he will next play for Cornell University of the Ivy League.
“It just feels amazing that it’s finally here,” a smiling and relieved Dickson said after putting pen to paper with his name that will now send him to upstate New York, in Ithaca, where Cornell's main campus is located. “Since last summer, I’ve been certain about where I wanted to go, and after my (official) visit in October, I just knew it was the right fit.”
In his final season playing for coach Chad Novack, Dickson was the immovable force inside for the Longhorns, averageing 15.6 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Class 4A-II state runners-up.
If any player has made an exponential jump throughout his middle school and high school years, Dickson could make a claim as being at the top of the list.
In the seventh and eighth grades in Holcomb, he played on the C and B teams. As a freshman, he saw playing time on the Longhorns junior varsity. By his sophomore year, he had earned a spot on the varsity, but averaged just 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 17 games.
During his junior year, however, Dickson began to show signs of being a significant contributor to the Longhorns’ success.
His scoring average more than doubled to 9.8 and his rebounding increased to 6.9 per game. Then, last summer, playing for an AAU team, he was spotted by the coaching staff of Cornell at a tournament in Spartanburg, S.C.
“After that, they said they were interested in me and kept watching me, and then they said they wanted me to come on a visit,” Dickson recalled of his early recruiting. “I just loved the campus and the town. Plus, it’s an Ivy League school, and that’s very meaningful to me for the academics.”
Dickson said he plans to major in biological sciences, and with Cornell being New York state’s only land-grant university, there is a lot of research conducted by undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty.
“Something along the lines of maybe working for Gatorade or Powerade to figure out what works for athletes to drink,” Dickson said of his narrower field of study. “It would have to include nutrition, something that is beneficial for athletes.”
Dickson, who played predominantly the post position for the Longhorns, will spend the rest of this school year and the summer developing his outside mid-range jumper and improving his ball-handling skills.
“They want me to be able to go a little more outside at the next level,” he said. “I’ve had a ball in my hand most of the offseason.”
Still, the realization that he will now be heading off to play Division I basketball is hard to grasp for the personable Dickson.
“I couldn’t fathom this, although I said all along that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “This has been my dream. I’ve wanted this my entire life.”
A lot of hard work and countless hours has gone into Dickson’s development into a D-I recruit, and nobody can appreciate that more than his high school coach, Novack.
“He’s one of those kids who put in a lot of time and extra effort in the gym,” Novack said. “It was not only what he did for our program but the time he spent on his own developing his game. I remember him telling me his freshman year that he wanted to play D-I basketball. Now, he’s going to have that opportunity.”
Dickson will be playing for the Big Red, whose mascot is a bear. The team finished 12-16 this past season, reaching the Ivy League semifinals, where their season ended with a 74-55 loss to Harvard.
The Big Red is coached by Brian Earl, a former Princeton University standout who has been at Cornell for two seasons, with his first team finishing 8-21.
“I think with the group of players returning and the group of recruits, things are looking up for us next season,” Dickson said.
Dickson said he likely will depart for Cornell sometime in June or July, depending on when the basketball program conducts its summer camps. Classes will begin in mid-August, and he can’t wait for the next chapter of his basketball/academic life to begin.
As for reaching this dream, Dickson had some words of advice for those youngsters who may be dreaming the same dream he did.
“No matter how dark things may seem, it will all work out if you work hard,” he said. “Be thankful for what you have because you never know when it might be gone.”
At the same ceremony, senior Holcomb's Carter Blackburn signed a Division II letter-of-intent to attend Fort Hays State University and run track and field for the Tigers.
Blackburn, who won both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles in Class 4A last May, hopes to translate those two events into the collegiate 110s and 400-meter hurdles. Blackburn also was a member of the Longhorns 2017 state football championship and 2018 state runner-up HHS teams.
Contact Brett Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.