Luke Aston has done plenty since leaving Dunedin and now he has achieved the ultimate goal.
The former Otago swingman was named in the Tall Blacks for the first time on Monday.
He left with the team last night for China, where it will play six warm-up games before heading to Lebanon for the Asia Cup.
It has been a long road for the 27-year-old, who said sticking at it was the key to making his dream come true.
Since leaving Otago Boys' High School in 2008, he has played for the Otago Nuggets, Hawke's Bay Hawks and Southland Sharks, as well as spending time at college in the United States.
''I think ever since I was playing basketball as a young kid I've wanted to play for the Tall Blacks,'' Aston said.
''Just over the years, continuing to stay at it and at it and eventually it's come true and it's pretty amazing.''
He said the Tall Blacks' camp and scrimmages against China had been competitive and the young team was excited.
Having been to China recently with the New Zealand Select team, it was not his first taste of international basketball and he was enjoying the challenge.
''It's a bit more of a step up from [the NBL] once again, just the intensity and the physicality. It's a bit of a step up.
''But it's still basketball, so you just have to make sure you do the same things, just be more disciplined.''
Aston spent the past season with the Southland Sharks and said the experience was instrumental in helping him progress to the national team.
It was a professional environment and the systems were in place to offer players the opportunities to get better.
He felt the standard of play at the Sharks had been reasonably high and that the NBL remained a good league.
Aston now lives in California with his wife, Hailey, when he is not playing in New Zealand.
He played in the country for four years at Santa Rosa Junior College and BYU-Hawaii, completing a sport and exercise science degree in the process.
The couple like to travel and his wife accompanied him to New Zealand during the NBL season. Travelling is something he hopes to do more of.
He is looking into securing a contract to play in Europe or Asia over the New Zealand summer.
Despite having nothing firmed up yet, he has an agent in Iceland and said there was still plenty of time before the season started.
''I think it's pretty cool to do something that you love. So I love basketball, obviously.
''Just to be able to travel around and experience different cultures and continue to play for as long as you can, that's the thing I have the passion for so do it for as long as I can.''
Article courtesy of Otago Daily Times