On May 1, 2017, a Kansas basketball fan started a Twitter account for a Providence Day high school student. The purpose? To help make 6-foot-1 point guard Devon Dotson choose Kansas as his eventual college destination.
The first tweet from @DevonDotsonToKU read: “(Dotson) is the man we want in 2018!”
It’s not often that high school basketball players get that type of attention, but Dotson, who signed with Kansas last month, is not your ordinary high school basketball player. He’s got more than 6,000 Twitter followers, more than 250,000 YouTube video views, and he’s ranked No. 26 nationally among high school seniors by ESPN, No. 17 by Rivals and 19 by 247Sports.
He’s also a two-time all-state, three-time all-conference player — and a state champion best described by his coach in one word.
Providence Day coach Brian Field said Dotson — the 2016-17 Charlotte Observer Mecklenburg County player of the year — is a “winner.”
“He’s playing at a really high level,” Field said. “He’s doing a lot of different things for us: scoring, rebounding, controlling the tempo. He’s playing at the highest level I’ve seen him play.”
N.C. recruiting analyst Rick Lewis was one of the first to rank Dotson among the nation’s best, back when Dotson was a sophomore. Lewis has long compared Dotson to Kansas great Frank Mason, now with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
“I don’t know another player in the country with his competitive nature,” Lewis said. “He has the ability to ‘will’ his team for wins. He has impeccable leadership qualities on the court. He’s also a willing defender who will challenge the opposing teams’ best player. He’s constantly putting aggressive pressure on both ends of the court.”
True to form, Dotson had 36 points and 10 rebounds in his 2017 Hoodie’s House tournament debut Wednesday against Fort Myers (Fla.). Dotson had 23 points, eight rebounds in Thursday’s national bracket semifinal loss to St. Frances (Maryland). For the season, Dotson is averaging 27 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. He’s got 2,085 career points, second in school history behind 2006 graduate Jeremy Goode, a two-time All-Observer player of the year who finished with 2,406 career points.
Like Goode, who was 5-foot-9 and freakishly athletic, Dotson is a player who attacks the basket as if he is angry at the rim. He’s improved an outside shot that’s been questioned, and while some analysts still question his height, at least in terms of being a high-level college basketball recruit, those questions get dimmer and dimmer with each sterling performance Dotson puts up against a Providence Day schedule that stacks up against any in the Southeast in terms of competitiveness.
This season, for example, Providence Day has played four nationally ranked teams and also played two Chinese professional teams in a special 10-day U.S./Chinese youth tournament. Dotson and the Chargers lost to Montverde Academy in the finals in Beijing, but not before he had 31 points on Montverde, arguably the nation’s best high school team, and was named “Most Spectacular” player of the tournament.
“Devon is a special player because he is a playmaker that possesses blazing speed and good upper-body strength, as well as vision to see the floor along with a basketball acumen that has grown over the years,” said ESPN national recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi. “He has a knack at getting his shoulders even with his man and then blows by his defender. I like the way he competes and most importantly how he ... makes winning a priority.
“His game has (the) physical tools, ball skills and basketball IQ that will translate into a top-notch point guard for Bill Self” at Kansas.
Dotson received more than 30 scholarship offers, including one from North Carolina during his sophomore season, but he said he fell in love with the campus in Lawrence, the Kansas fans and the coaching staff.
“That was a place where I could develop on and off the court,” Dotson said. “I formed a great relationship with coach Self and I trust the coaching staff and I trust the program. When I took my official visit there, I wasn’t expecting what I saw, but I really liked it and the coaching staff was great and fun and the fans were unbelievable. It just had a family feel to it. It felt like the coaches genuinely cared about the players there and wanting to get them better.”
With his college commitment in place, and his Kansas Twitter account now gone quiet, Dotson is focused on polishing off one of the better careers in recent Mecklenburg County history.
“It’s just been a blessing, all this notoriety that has come with this,” Dotson said. “And it just shows that all the hard work is paying off, all the work I did with my dad. Like I said, it’s just been a blessing, really.”
Thursday’s Hoodie’s House Tournament Results
Edgewater (Fla.) 59, Asheville Christian 47
Carmel Christian 64, Fort Myers 51
Butler 69, Concord First Assembly 68
Lincoln Charter 71, Victory Christian 52
Baltimore St. Frances 77, Providence Day 61
Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln 77, Neumann Goretti (PA) 64
Asheville Christian vs. Ft Myers (Fla.), 7th place, 11 a.m.
Edgewater (Fla.) vs. Carmel Christian, 5th place, 12:45 p.m.
Concord First Assembly vs. Victory Christian, 2:30 p.m.
Providence Day vs. Neumann Goretti (PA), 3rd place, 4:15 p.m.
Butler vs. Lincoln Charter, 6 p.m.
St. Frances (Md.) vs. Lincoln (NY), championship, 7:45 p.m.
Note: All games at Providence Day School