The Journey of Daquan Lilly: From the Carolinas to Hong Kong

Daquan Lilly is a forward for the Raleigh Firebirds; yet he's easy to overlook. He's not the most flashy player, throwing down jaw dropping dunks or making gravity defining blocks. However, what he does bring to the table is consistency, rebounding, and a strong interior presence. His agility on the court has helped take him on a basketball journey from the Carolinas to Illinois to Hong Kong.



Lilly was born on September 9th, 1997, in South Carolina. Lilly lived there with his parents and two younger sisters until he was around five or six, when the family would move to Knightdale. Lilly was an athletic child, as he played football and baseball as a kid. However, the sport that would stick the most with him was basketball.

"My pops put a ball in my hand, probably around the age of two, three, and I've been playing since then."

Lilly rapidly excelled in basketball, and with genetics on his side, he made Knightdale High School's varsity basketball team his freshman year, a rare accomplishment for any basketball player. At the time, Lilly stood 6'2", and was an intriguing prospect. Outside of school, he played AAU Basketball for Garner Road. After one year with the team, he would switch to play AAU Basketball for UBA, and continued to excel on the court.


By his senior season of high school, Lilly was averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds per game, and had 14 Division II offers. "I was thankful {for the offers}," said Lilly. However, he decided to take the junior college route coming out of high school, attending Olney Central College in Illinois. After two years, Lilly transferred to Catawba, a Division II school in North Carolina.



Catawba Athletics


During his junior season, from 2018-19 at Catawba, Lilly averaged a solid 10 points and 5 rebounds on 55.2% shooting from the field. The college game would take a bit of transitioning to, as when asked about what the biggest difference was between high school and college basketball, Lilly said, "The speed of the game and the structure. The help side is more intense, and it's more physical." While at Catawba, Lilly majored in communications, and he plans to go into the radio business once his playing career is over.



During the 2019-20 campaign, Lilly would start in 26 of 28 games, and average 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists on an improved 53.4% from the field. Once the season had ended, COVID-19 had hit the planet, and it wasn't easy to find opportunities to play professional basketball. Lilly hired an agent, Justin Allen, who immediately began looking for opportunities for his client. Unfortunately, with the pandemic going on, there simply weren't a lot of opportunities to play professional basketball overseas.


Catawba Athletics


Allen did know about a pro league in America (TBL), and got in touch with Raleigh Firebirds team owner Wade Harris. Soon, Lilly would begin working out with the team, and in 2021, he made the Firebirds' roster. Unfortunately, due to an ankle injury, Lilly required surgery, and would miss the entire season rehabbing.



Lilly didn't let up. He kept working to get healthy, saying his motivation to succeed was the love for the game, the competitiveness, and just wanting to be the best. Lilly worked through early morning workouts, because once they were done, he had the rest of his day to enjoy. By early 2022, Lilly was back, and he once again made the Firebirds roster.


After a successful year with the Firebirds, Allen kept looking for opportunities for Lilly to play overseas. He would network and talk to people as much as possible, and was always sending film to scouts. Soon, a team from Hong Kong would contact Allen about Lilly.


"They reached out to my agent towards the end of the Firebirds season," said Lilly. "It was just interest, nothing official. And then, I guess as the team and my agent kept talking more and more, things got more serious, and then I actually spoke with them and it went from there. This all happened in like a week's span at the end of the Firebirds' season.


"{Allen} was able to land that deal."


There will be links to each game that Lilly plays in Hong Kong, so make sure to keep an eye out for those in social media. Lilly leaves for Hong Kong on the 12th, and the Firebirds community wishes him the best of luck overseas. It's always great to see hoopers accomplishing their goals.



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