TAMPA, Fla. — IMG senior standout Eric Dailey Jr. brought home two championships to end his summer. The Palmetto-native helped Team USA win gold at the FIBA 3-on-3 Under 18 World Cup in Hungary on August 29. He also took top honors in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Dailey said he used Michael Jordan for inspiration on a cradle-style dunk, and he knew he had to win the crowd if he wanted to win the title.
"I think one of the dunks that really got the crowd going was when I did between the legs," Dailey said via video chat. "I did a between the legs dunk, and I did it really hard. That really got everybody excited. I’m just going to play with the crowd, get everybody excited. Use my humor, and it was all up from there."
Dailey was part of a four-man roster that included fellow prep stars Gradey Dick, Kyle Filipowski, and Keyonte George. They had all played in the same high school events over the past couple of years, but this was the first time they were all on the same team at the same time. During a short training camp in Chicago, Dailey said the team's objective was clear.
"We all had the same, common goal. So whatever we had to do to get there is what we did," he said. "The advantage for us was our speed, our quickness, our athleticism. We had to really sit on defense. We did that, and that’s how we got the gold."
Dailey Jr.'s driving lay-up gave Team USA a 21-14 win over Estonia in the gold medal game. He said he would've been able to celebrate it more had he seen the shot actually go through the net.
"Honestly, I didn’t even know I made the shot, when I went up," Eric joked. "I knew I was going to get fouled. So that’s why I drove. But once it went in and I saw everybody’s reaction, it was just like, relief. My teammates picked me up, and it was just the best moment in my life right there."
Now, Dailey wants to collect more hardware as a member of more Team USA rosters.
"It’s only the beginning. Hopefully, I’ll play for the USA more times. But that feeling, to see a gold medal around my neck was just unbelievable."
Dailey said his next goal is to lead IMG to a national championship.