To see Dominique Long now, as the leading scorer on a National Tournament bound Central Missouri squad, you might think that his road to success has been an easy one. You’d be wrong. Trials have been the norm for Long, but so too has been his perseverance.
You might remember Dominique Long from his days at Waynesville High School. He was an all-state player for the Tigers. That decorated prep career helped him land a scholarship to Drury …. But that’s where the road began to get rocky.
“We were in Hawaii when it happened,” Long remembers. “ I went up to block somebody’s shot and I came down on their foot.”
Long suffered what’s called a sub-talar dislocation. A rare injury that would bring an end to his freshman season.
“I had to stay in a cast for a couple of months, then had to go through 3 or 4 months of rehab.”
Long would comeback to have a fairly successful sophomore campaign, but he wasn’t seeing eye to eye with the Panther coaches. He took that as his cue to transfer. That’s when Central Missouri would come into the picture.
“We brought him in for a visit and he got the chance to play with our guys, and we liked what we saw,” says UCM head coach Kim Anderson.
But the change of schools wouldn’t change his luck. The injury bug would bite again.
“My first year here I injured my other ankle,” says Long. “So I had to sit out that whole year also.”
At the end of that frustrating season, Long’s new head coach Kim Anderson sat him down, and had a stern conversation with the young man.
“I really didn’t like his work ethic and I really didn’t like his attitude,” Anderson bluntly states. “At the end of the year I challenged him and said if it doesn’t step up then you’re not going to be here.”
“Coach Anderson challenged me to work on my game and be someone he can rely on in the future,” added Long.
Long would accept the challenge.
“I took it upon myself in the spring to work hard and I came back the next year and earned playing time.”
“To his credit, he responded,” Anderson says. “When he came back last year, he was a different player.”
He would average a team high 12 points per game as a junior, and this year he again led the team, scoring 15 points per game. All the hardships only made him stronger.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” says the senior forward. “I had to learn a lot. I had to fight through a lot of injuries. It taught me perseverance.”
“I’m proud of him,” smiles Anderson. “He’s a good student and he’s worked hard on the basketball floor and he’s made himself an All-Conference player.”
Long’s season came to an end on Saturday night as the Mules fell to Harding in the first round of the NCAA D-II national tournament, but the lessons he’s learned along the way have been invaluable.
“I feel like all I’ve gone through has been worth it in the end.”