When the first game began, Lakeland University basketball player Kyle Domark was sitting on the bench, cheering on his American teammates as they battled a team from Vienna, Austria.
Suddenly, Domark got the call. He shed his Team USA warmup, entered the fray and promptly drained five 3-pointers to close out the first half.
Following that explosive shooting display, Domark, a sophomore-to-be, started the ensuing five games of his team’s USA Athletes International (USAAI) early summer European basketball tour.
“Being able to shoot well over there was awesome,” said Domark, who estimates he drained between 18 and 20 3-pointers on the trip. “I’m glad I didn’t really have an off day. It was also fun trying new things, coming off screens differently than I’m used to and using new moves.”
Domark, a 6-3, 180-pound shooting guard from Yorkville, Ill., was initially invited to join a USAAI team bound for Italy. Due to some roster shuffling, he ended up on a team that played six games in eight days in Austria, Slovenia and Italy. He was the youngest player and the only Division III player on a roster that included NCAA Division II and NAIA basketball players.
Domark enjoyed the cultural blend on his team. Players from New York City meshed beautifully with players from Illinois and “farm boys from Missouri,” he said.
“They were all really cool guys,” he said. “Being on the same team as the D2 and NAIA guys was good for me, because I saw how smart they play. They do a lot of little things that are so important, like moving without the ball.”
The trip to Europe was one Domark will not soon forget, and not just because of the actual basketball competition.
“Some of the people thought we were celebrities,” he said. “When we’d walk into restaurants, people would freak out. We were taking pictures with people in the streets, just because we were from the U.S. We were hyped up way more than we should have been.”
On the court, the U.S. team went a respectable 4-2, but Domark’s most searing memory is of a 30-point beat-down at the hands of a Slovenian elite junior team in Ljubljana. Four former or current NBA players hail from Ljubljana, including current Miami Heat player Goran Dragic.
Anyone who has played with or against Domark knows he can shoot a basketball. When he gets hot, his range and accuracy can be ridiculous. Domark certainly showcased that ability during his trip to Europe, but he came back more determined than ever to improve his overall game.
“I’ve been working hard on ball handling, and lateral quickness on defense, which is my biggest weakness,” he said. “Also, paying attention to the entire court. As a player, you’ve got to be able to do more than just shoot.”
Domark is excited about his next three years as a Muskie. After missing the first half of last season due to an injury, he worked his way into the rotation the last month of his freshman season and hit eight 3’s in eight games.
“I’m grateful that the coaches gave me the opportunity to show that I can hang at this level,” he said. “But after this offseason, and after playing with and against guys a lot better than me and holding my own, I have gained a lot of confidence. I have learned a lot of things I am excited to bring to our team.”