HOUGHTON - Trading trips to Lake Linden-Hubbell for Grand Valley State. From playing at Ontonagon, to playing at Findlay.
From a Panther ... to a Husky.
Ewen-Trout Creek senior guard Dillon Gordon officially made the leap from the Porcupine Mountain Conference to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with the signing and delivery of his National Letter of Intent to the Michigan Tech men's basketball program and head coach Kevin Luke over the weekend, making him the first local kid to sign on with Tech since E-TC's Kelsey Fors in the early 2000s.
Ewen-Trout Creek’s Dillon Gordon takes a free throw during a 2012 game against Houghton. Gordon will be wearing black and gold and playing in Houghton in the future, but he’ll do it playing for Michigan Tech, for which he signed a National Letter of Intent recently. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
And what a leap it is.
From Class D U.P. basketball to Division II collegiate hoops, the 5-foot-10 Gordon will have to ratchet up his game in all areas to compete with the (much) bigger, faster, stronger league.
It will be a monumental challenge and adjustment. One he is embracing.
"I'm looking forward to it, I'm ready to embrace it," Gordon said. "When the competition rises that is when you have to work extra hard and prepare. You have to hit the weight room and you don't have that advantage you used to have in high school. you have to meet the challenge head on."
While Gordon has been a scoring star at the Panthers for all four years of high school, he cemented his position for a late add to Luke's recruiting class with an explosive senior year.
Gordon poured in 26.7 points per game for the Panthers this season -- including a 43-point outburst against Houghton in February - as well as filling E-TC's primary ball-handling and distributor role.
His superior quickness and outside shooting, as well as the poise Gordon showed against every gimmick defense team's threw at him in an effort to slow him down, convinced Luke the Class D-product would be able to make the leap to Division II.
"It is a concern, but it is not a concern if you know what I mean," Luke said. "It just takes time right now. If he plays up here in summer that will help and the more reps he can get with the team, the quicker the adjustment. It is what it is in the U.P. with basketball, and not in a bad way. It will take time this preseason and this summer to get him adjusted, but we are looking forward to that. The kid is a gym rat."
"Tech is the perfect fit," Gordon added. "They came at me throughout the whole year and my family was talking with them a lot. It is a great education and just a no-brainer."
Luke was comfortable projecting Gordon's game to translate to college with two recent U.P. Class D successes in mind.
Fors came to Tech as a very similar player to Gordon - and shot over 35 percent for his career from three - and Jordan Chartier (Superior Central) was superb as a redshirt freshman this season, cementing himself as the Huskies' backup point guard on their league championship run and hitting a handful of clutch threes along the way.
"He is actually very similar to Fors in respect to his shooting," Luke said. "They are both excellent shooters. There are a lot of similarities between those two players. If he pans out as good as Kelsey did, we will have gotten a good player."
While Chartier redshirted his true freshman year to help the transition with the increased size and speed of the game, Luke said no such decision has been made with Gordon yet.
He will be given a chance over the summer and preseason to prove he can made the adjustment quickly enough if Gordon wants to see the floor his first year in Houghton.
"You know what I want? I want him to be like the kid from Michigan (Spike Albrecht) who came in and made all those shots (during the NCAA Tournament)," Luke said. "Now that is a lot to ask of a kid, but he has some very good strengths. He has that in him."
Gordon's attitude is certainly in the right place.
"I'm just looking at it like, 'have no fear,'" Gordon said. "I'm just looking forward to getting up to Tech this summer and working on my game every day. Every day I'll get a little quicker, a little stronger, a little better."