Tre Nichols used to fantasize about it.
As a standout on Killeen’s basketball team, the 2008 graduate would daydream about life as a professional player. Like every other athlete chasing a goal, he envisioned himself dominating the competition. He could see his future self hitting game-winning shots, throwing down ferocious dunks and experiencing the thrill of victory at the highest level.
A few short years later, Nichols is living his fantasy.
The 5-foot-11 guard is on top of his game in the land down under as one of only three players to average at least 30 points in the State Basketball League of Western Australia.
Despite dedicating his existence to the sport, Nichols still has difficulty grasping his reality.
“It was all just once a dream,” he said. “I never really would have thought I’d be in the position and this would actually come to life. I’m just living in the moment because this all happened pretty quick.
Within a couple months, my life has changed tremendously.”
Following his career with the Kangaroos, which included being named the district’s most valuable player twice and a pair of all-state selections, Nichols played collegiately at Texas State and McLennan Community College before transferring to Boise State.
Despite only averaging 4.5 points per game during his college career, Nichols earned professional contracts with the West Texas Whirlwind and Central Texas Rhythm.
It took a trip to the other side of the globe, however, to transform into a true force on the floor.
After being recruited to Bunbury — Western Australia’s third largest city — by South West Slammers head coach Ty Harrelson, who is the son of former longtime Lampasas head coach Scott Harrelson, Nichols blossomed.
In his debut, he scored 21 points to go with five assists, and he has not slowed down.
Since the season began in March, Nichols has posted at least 25 points in all but two games, recording a 48-point outing on 17 of 28 shooting against the Cockburn Cougars.
Overall, he is the league’s third leading scorer, averaging 30.3 points to go along with 2.3 steals, which is third in the league, 3.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Additionally, he is shooting 50.9 percent, hitting 39 percent of his 3-pointers.
Although the experience is surreal at times, Nichols never doubted his abilities.
“In a sense,” he said, “I’m surprised with how I’m performing, but in the back of my mind, I’m thinking that all I needed was an opportunity.
“It is all about staying ready and perfecting the craft because I never knew what situation I would encounter, but when my name was called, I was ready.”
With Nichols — who scored 26 points en route to being named the 2015 SBL All-Star Game Most Valuable Player — leading the way offensively, the Slammers (13-6) are third in the league standings after winning 12 of their first 13 games. Approximately a month remains in the regular season with the top eight teams advancing into the playoffs.
While his ultimate goal is to win the league championship and continue progressing his career forward, Nichols knows it will not come without even more hard work.
Regardless of any physical or emotional pains he might endure along the way, Nichols would not want it any other way.
After all, this is the life he use to fantasize about.
“I have two little girls back home,” Nichols said. “The hardest part of all this is being away from them and my family, but I know I’m doing this for the right reasons.
“This is a lifelong dream, so I’m going to live it out or else I know I’ll regret it later.”