As a sophomore last season, Providence Day point guard Devon Dotson played well enough to receive college basketball scholarship offers from Clemson, Florida, N.C. State, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest.
Providence Day basketball coach Brian Field says Dotson’s junior and senior seasons have the potential to be much better.
“As strange as this may sound, given how well he did last year, I hope it’s a breakout year for him (in 2016-17),” said Field, whose team will play in seven tournaments with highly regarded teams next season.
“We’ll play on a national stage, and for him to play against some of the premier teams and players will be great. It’ll give him a chance to continue to improve and see his stock rise in the college recruiting world.”
Dotson, who is 6-foot-1, is being recruited by a Who’s Who of colleges. Recently, he received offers from Providence and Southern Cal, among others.
He has received interest from Kentucky, where he made an unofficial recruiting visit last fall. ESPN ranks Dotson No. 57 in the class of 2018, and, during the most recent spring recruiting ranking period, he was considered the No. 2 prospect in North Carolina behind North Carolina recruit Rechon “Leaky” Black, a 6-7 point guard from Concord.
What do college coaches seem to like most about Dotson?
“The one thing you always notice about Devon is that he’s tough as nails,” said N.C. recruiting analyst Rick Lewis of Phenom Hoop Report, “and I think when you look at the other guys who are highly ranked, a lot of pundits cap his ceiling level because of his height.
“That being said, he has something a lot of kids don’t have. He just plays at a very competitive level. Every time he steps on the court, he’ll give 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time, and I think a lot of kids just don’t do that.”
Last season, Dotson averaged 16.6 points, 4.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals on a state championship team that included five double-figure scorers. Providence Day played 11 teams that were nationally ranked last season, and Dotson was all-conference (CISAA) and all-state (N.C. Independent Schools 3A).
He has played this spring for former North Carolina point guard Jeff McInnis on McInnis’ Team Charlotte travel team. Dotson plays up an age group with rising seniors. He has helped the team to an 11-1 record on the Under Armour circuit.
“Spring has been good from a team standpoint,” Dotson said. “Everybody is playing well together, and we have good chemistry on the court and we hope to be better in July (for the second half of the travel ball season).
“But personally, I don’t think I’ve played the best I can. I’m worried about my (left) ankle. I still haven’t gotten my full explosiveness back.”
Dotson injured his ankle last December at the Hoodies House Christmas tournament at Providence Day. He missed three weeks but returned for the playoff push. Since the high school season ended, Dotson said he has worked tirelessly to get stronger and to improve his jump shot.
With Providence Day seniors Grant Williams, Isaac Johnson and Josh Howard graduated – after winning four straight conference titles – Dotson will be asked to help lead a young team that will be much smaller.
Last season’s seniors were 6-6 or taller.
“My goals are to lead the team and put the young players in their spots and being more verbal on the court,” Dotson said. “But my main goal is winning the state championship again. I think it’s realistic. With the pieces we have and the backcourt getting older, I think we have a good chance this year.”
Coach Field, like Dotson, believes his team has a shot to do well next season.
“We’ll have that bull’s-eye on us, which we’ve had the last few years,” Field said. “We lost some size, and we’ll make an adjustment with how we play. But what I love about our guys is that they love competition, and they’re not afraid to play with that bull’s-eye.
“And Devon has gotten older and more mature. He’s played well on the Under Armour circuit, and we’ll challenge him to be more of a floor general for us. He’ll have to lead by example.”
Soon, Dotson said, he will begin seriously thinking about where he wants to attend college. This week, NCAA rules allowed college coaches to directly contact recruits in the 2018 class for the first time, and Dotson said he could soon narrow his list of potential schools.
“It could narrow this summer if I have a good summer,” Dotson said. “I’m looking for a program where I can have trust in the coach and a great relationship with the coaching staff, and a program that can help me get better, and not only from a basketball standpoint, but help me get better as a person.
“I also want a school that can give me a great education. I would like to stay close (to home), but if there’s a great situation that’s far away, so be it.”
Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr