Tyler Dorsey wanted to play for the Greek national team at this Summer’s EuroBasket, but after sustaining an injury in July, the Greek American was forced to put his dreams of representing the senior national team at a major tournament on hold.

“I had just sprained my ankle in Summer League so I wasn’t 100 per cent and I probably wouldn’t have been 100 per cent by the time the games started so I just wanted to stay [in America], rehab that, and focus on all the plays and getting adjusted [to the NBA],” Dorsey told Neos Kosmos.

Born in California to an American father and a Greek mother, Dorsey first played for the Greek national team at the Under-19 World Championships in 2015, just three weeks after securing his Greek passport.

He has put on the national team colors for the men’s team in some friendly exhibitions, but given Greece’s depth of veteran guards, Dorsey has missed out on selection for the the past two major tournaments at the Olympics and Eurobasket. Still, as he watched Greece lose to Russia in the Round of 16 at EuroBasket, Dorsey felt like he could have helped the team.

“I definitely felt that [like he could have helped] watching the games, but it was a rough tournament for Greece,” he said.

“They’re definitely gonna bounce back for the Olympics that’s coming up in a couple of years.”

Dorsey certainly has Tokyo 2020 on his mind, and he says that he will “most definitely” try out for the team again, health permitting, but in the meantime, he’s focused on helping the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA this season.

Drafted 41st overall in this June’s draft, Dorsey was immediately given a full endorsement of confidence by the team’s GM, Travis Schlenk, who said that Dorsey had every chance of making the Hawks’ final roster. He did, and was given a fully-guaranteed two-year deal by the GM as a show of faith.

Dorsey may not have played much so far this season, but he maintains the season has been going “smoothly” for him regardless.

“As of right now I haven’t got much [court time] yet, but I’m just here working on my game when I don’t get a lot of minutes and encouraging my teammates,” he said.

“Just cheering all my teammates, and whenever I get an opportunity to get on the court I go out there.”

While at college at Oregon, Dorsey was nicknamed ‘Mr Clutch’ for his clutch play during the NCAA Tournament, but to stick in the NBA long-term, the skilled offensive player is going to have to be able to handle himself on the defensive end as well. “He just has a knack for putting the ball in the basket,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.

“That’s the positive that stands out. He’s got a lot to develop to grow and develop defensively. There’s a physicality that, when you start playing against NBA-level athletes, what you have to do defensively to get on the court and stay there is a big jump for a lot of young players.
“If he starts to understand how important it is to be committed defensively, more physical defensively, I’m sure he’ll get his chances with us.”

His coaches also praise his maturity. There may be times this season where Dorsey is sent down to the team’s development league affiliate, something he says he is mentally prepared for, but he also credits his time around the Greek national team as helping him understand how to be a professional.

“Just the way they approach the game every day and how professional they are,” he says.

“Trying to pick people’s brains – that’s what I did when I tried out; tried to learn everything. I was in college then, and here I am now [in the NBA] and I’m using those things that I learned. I’m mentally ready for anything this year coming up.”