The best athletes in the world are determined and know the key to success is making the most of every opportunity.
On current evidence, Rotorua Boys' High School student Nabil Kone is well and truly on the right track.
This month, the 19-year-old accepted a full basketball scholarship to Trinity International University in Chicago, realising a lifelong dream.
Standing at 6ft 7 (201cm) he appears built for basketball but, both on and off the court, there is much more to Kone than his height.
Originally from Mali in West Africa, Kone spent time at a high school in Thailand on a basketball scholarship. That is where was scouted by Rotorua Boys' High School director of basketball Theo Tait who made him a promise: "Come to our school and we will help you get a scholarship to a US college".
Tait proved to be a man of his word as, just as Kone was considering other options, the right offer arrived.
"I was really excited because I was thinking of going to different pathways but my coaches and family, they really made me look into it deeply and see what I could get out of it. It's not every day you get a full scholarship to study and get a degree, at the same time doing something you love," Kone said.
His journey has been full of obstacles. English is not his first language and he has not seen his family back in Africa for about four years.
However, a quiet determination and eagerness to engage with his school, teammates and community in Rotorua have helped him stay on track to achieving his basketball dreams.
"Mr Tait recruited me three years ago and I didn't even think twice about coming here. During recruitment, he really sort of promised me that if I do my best on the court and in the classroom, have a good positive attitude, those are the keys to getting a scholarship in the US, as well as leadership and ability to play basketball on court.
Congratulations to Nabil Kone who has accepted a full basketball scholarship to Trinity International University in Chicago, United States! Nabil signed his letter of intent beside Coaches Tait and Elers and Mr Grinter during a Zoom call to Trinity head coach, Greg Miller.Posted by Rotorua Boys' High School on Sunday, 5 July 2020
"Those are definitely things that will help you in life, not just in basketball. I'm really fortunate for being here because the culture in the school is unbelievable, all the teachers have helped me a lot because English was not my first language. Now, I have my literacy and numeracy and uni entrance - I can go to university in New Zealand. That's quite an achievement and I'm really proud.
"It is hard not seeing my family but having the internet and all that makes it easier, I talk to them a lot still. They were quite excited and really happy about [the scholarship]."
Before he moved to Thailand he had a scholarship in New York lined up but the South African Embassy denied his visa because he did not have any family there.
"I was so disappointed, I cried for weeks after that. I am really glad that things worked out this way though because I don't think I'd be who I am as a person, not just a basketballer. I went through a lot on my journey from Thailand to here and those kind of things make people grow."
During his time in Rotorua, the Tai Mitchell Hostel has been Kone's home away from home, and the boys he lived with there is whānau.
"I will definitely be sad to leave because I really love New Zealand. I love the culture and how friendly people are in New Zealand. It's not like any other country I've been to and I would like to move back and have a family here some day."
Kone was set to move to Chicago in August but has negotiated to stay in New Zealand until October so he can play one more New Zealand Secondary School Basketball Championship with his Rotorua Boys' High School teammates.
The Trinity International University Trojans basketball team play in the NAIA Division 2 Championship.