Carter Arey never could have imagined that wearing a Team USA jersey would be a normal feeling, but he has adjusted.
"I felt like wearing somebody else's jersey, but now it's my team and my colors," the MU junior said.
Arey was selected to the U.S Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team's 12-man squad July 1. He is now prepping for his first international tournament in Bogota, Columbia, the Americas Zone World Championship Qualifier.
He guarantees a win.
"You should see how good we are," he said. "I'm excited for the gold medal and hearing the national anthem after we win."
Arey might be wearing the blue and red across his chest now, but he said his first priority is to the black and gold. His experience this summer will only help the program, he said.
"This can take Mizzou to the next level," he said. "It will help with recruiting and everything because they can look at me and see what (coach) Ron Lykins made me into in three years."
Arey has played wheelchair basketball for three years after being recruited to MU by Lykins, the Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball coach and the U.S. team coach.
"Carter competes and works hard," Lykins said. "He has a bright future. This is his first opportunity to show he can play."
To make the team, Arey attended a three-day tryout from May 28 to June 2 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The tryout lasts eight hours a day with competition between top-notched players, Lykins said.
"It was intense," Arey said. "They really put us through the wringer."
Lykins was one of the coaches at the try out but that did not give Arey an advantage. Lykins said he made a conscious effort to be impartial. Regardless, he said Arey played well and deserved to make the team.
The competition was faster than what Arey was used to.
"Everyone was a shooter and could shoot from anywhere on the floor, which makes it harder to play defense," he said. "I was surprised by how good they were and how fast."
To add to the learning curve, Arey also tore his pectoral muscle at the tryout, which he said was just something he had to battle through.
While at the tryout, Arey picked the brains of the coaches and be tried to be a sponge, absorbing everything people told him.
In the end, Lykins said he showed that he was able to play at his size and that he could handle the ball.
"We were looking for guys that could do a little bit of everything," he said. "We want to get the best players so we can win."
Arey found out in May that he was selected to try out. Only 28 players received this honor.
"It was unreal to think that I was one of 28 guys," he said. "I was so pumped to train at the facility and train with the coaches. It was surreal."
It became real to Arey when he saw people touring the facility.
"The fact that people were touring where I was training made it real," he said.
Making Team USA is the realization of a longtime goal for Arey. His family helped him achieve this goal and make it through this whirlwind of a summer in which Arey is practically living out of a suitcase.
"They have been awesome," he said. "Nothing but support. I'm lucky to have this triangle of support — my friends, fiancé and family. Other people don't have this support. I have it easy compared to them."