PCS player from Dominican Republic living dream in U.S.

PCS player from Dominican Republic living dream in U.S.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - "I was in the car with David West and I'm like, 'I am here,'" said PCS junior forward Otoniel Duran. "This is like a dream come true and it's just amazing how God's will works."

Otoniel Duran, who goes by Oto, has had a long journey to the Bobcats' gym. Even longer than the 1,438 miles between Hattiesburg and Oto's home La Vega of the Dominican Republic.

It was there in 2012 that Oto's intent on coming to the United States was first sown.

"He had much interest in basketball there but he was interested in a lot more," said PCS head coach Josh Dorman.

"My dream was to come here and study in the states because it will be a better opportunity for me and my family."

2014 was when Oto first met his host dad David West. West was on one of his many mission trips with Global Effect Ministries and Oto served as his translator.

Two years, several miles of travel and lots of paperwork later, Oto was headed to his first day of American school in August. Three months later he was taking his first shots of American basketball. He's enjoyed every American experience in between.

"I have enjoyed the food," Oto said. "Even though it's not the same as home but it's a bunch of food. It's different. I love it."

His host family, the Wests, can attest to that having caught Oto sneaking into their fridge just about every midnight.

Besides food, Oto's teammates have gladly introduced him to other staples of American culture.

"Like Juju on the beat and other stuff," Oto said. "They're crazy. They're great teammates. This is an awesome team."

Besides what the 6'4" junior has brought to the court - leading the Bobcats in scoring and rebounding - Oto brings a purpose to PCS. Purpose to grow with his teammates, purpose that expands beyond just high school basketball, the very purpose Oto came to America for in the first place. 

"My goal is to get an education here in the states so I can get the knowledge that I get here and bring it back to my country," Oto said. "To try and help my country and make it better."

"He's come in here and he's the real deal," Dorman said. "And that doesn't mean basketball. Basketball has really been a second or third seat to the overall story. And that is, what tremendous young man who's going to be educated here. His dream is to take this education back to the Dominican Republic. He's just a strong young man. He's a terrific young man."