Dillon signs to play hoops for Regent

Published 10:20 pm Monday, July 17, 2023

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The chief on-court architect of the tremendous basketball success Rock Church School has experienced the last few years has announced where he will play the sport at the college level.

Rock Lions superstar D.J. Dillon committed to attend and play basketball for Regent University during a signing ceremony held this spring at the Ben S. Dillon Life Center before a crowd that included his family, friends and the entire Rock Church School.

“It meant a lot to have all of my hard work pay off and for my dream to come true,” he said.

Dillon, who also starred for Rock Church on the soccer pitch, noted that playing college basketball became a focused goal of his around his freshman year in high school.

“That is about the time that I started liking basketball more than soccer,” he said.

He explained that for years, he thought he would be playing soccer in college “just because I was that much better at soccer, but when I turned my focus to basketball, I was all in. I received offers to play soccer from D1, D2 and D3 universities, but in the end I am more passionate about basketball.”

Dillon’s passion helped drive the Rock Church School basketball program to championships at the state and national levels. The Lions won the 2023 1A Mid Atlantic Christian Athletic Association Dual State Tournament and also the 2022 ACE National Tournament.

During his career in the RCS hoops program, Dillon led the Lions to a win-loss record of 127-23.

In the 2022-23 season, his senior year, he was fourth in the nation in scoring according to MaxPreps.com, averaging 37.1 points per game. He was third in the nation in his junior year, averaging 35 points a game.

“I would’ve played soccer if that was the only way to play for college, but God made a way to play basketball and to receive a full ride,” Dillon said.

He had a variety of schools for which he was considering playing basketball, but he noted that it really came down to High Point University and Regent. He explained why the latter proved to be his ultimate choice.

“Regent is a Christian university, which is important to me,” he said. “Coach (Richard) Pullen and his staff really wanted me as a part of their program and felt like I could help right away. It is also close to home, which is nice.”

To attend Regent this fall, D.J. is receiving a full ride, with a total of $108,000 in scholarship money.

Regent Royals Head Coach Richard Pullen said, “D.J. is a high-character young man who will positively impact team chemistry. He will also bring a scoring threat in transition and a tremendous natural jump shot in the half court.” 

D.J. has been coached for most of his life by his own father, Danny Dillon, who himself was a talented athlete growing up. Danny took a moment to share what it was like for himself and his wife, Jill Dillon, to see their son sign to play basketball at the college level.

“We pray over our children that God would give them the desires of their heart and use them to bring light to the world,” he said. “D.J. has done that every time he has stepped out on the court, and now he gets to do it on a bigger stage. With both my brother and I having the opportunity to play at the collegiate level, it makes it even more special. This is an amazing day for the Dillon and Rock Church family. 

“The whole community has been so supportive; everywhere he goes people are showing him love,” Danny said of D.J. “We just can’t praise God enough for this amazing opportunity. It’s been 25 years since Rock had a college athlete, and I think D.J. is paving the way because the Rock Lions have a few up-and-coming stars that want to follow in D.J.’s footsteps.

“In the end, sports will come and go,” Danny added, “but what Jill and I are most proud of D.J. can be said in III John 1:4: ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.’”

Danny has plans to go see D.J. play, looking forward especially to a likely showdown between Regent and his alma mater, Liberty University. 

Nevertheless, Danny will continue to coach basketball at Rock Church School, where he has two other sons coming through, “along with 20 adopted sons,” he said with a laugh. These coaching duties will limit his opportunities to be a fan in the stands at Royals games.

“It is going to be tough to miss any of his games as I would imagine out of some one thousand games that he has played throughout his life, I can’t remember missing one,” Danny said. “But regardless if I am there, it’s God that will always be by his side, and that is who gave him his talents.”

As he offered thanks to those who helped him reach his current level of achievement, D.J. started with God.

“First off I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the best life,” he said. “I also want to thank God for giving me the ability to play the game of basketball. 

“I would like to say thank you to my mom and dad for supporting me throughout my years in sports,” he continued. “You mean so much to me and of course my three brothers. To my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my Rock Church family and my late Uncle Ben, thank you. 

“Special thanks to my dad for being my coach and mentor from age 4 throughout my high school career; I appreciate you pushing me to strive for greatness,” D.J. said. “Alongside of my father, I want to thank all the coaches through the years that took the time to encourage me along my journey. 

“I can’t imagine doing this without my teammates that pushed me each and every day in practice, games and tournaments,” he added. “They are memories I will never forget. Lastly, to all the coaches and universities that recruited me in soccer or basketball, thank you for believing in me.”

D.J. plans to major in business marketing and minor in Biblical studies.