Michigan Basketball is right around the corner, and it’s time now to start looking at the new and returning Wolverines as we begin to preview the upcoming 2014-15 season. As in the past, we will begin by taking a look at the unknowns – the freshmen – and continue with position-by-position breakdowns featuring the rest of the squad and conclude with a complete season preview, including our picks for breakout players, team MVP, record, postseason finish, and more. Get excited!
Next up is freshman wing Aubrey Dawkins.
Previously: Ricky Doyle, Kameron Chatman, D.J. Wilson, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman
|#24 Aubrey Dawkins
||Palo Alto, Calif.
||Palo Alto HS
|High School Stats (2012-13)
||18.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game
||New Hampton Prep
|Prep School Stats (2013-14)
||12.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game
||April 28, 2014
||Dayton, Rhode Island
|Chance of Redshirt
||3-star – NR
||2-star – Overall: NR, Position: 101, State: 53 (Calif), Grade: 65
||3-star – Overall: NR, Position: 71, State: 8 (N.H.), Grade: 84
||2-star – Overall: 385, Position: 88, State: 11
Background: Aubrey Dawkins is the son of former Duke great and current Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins, but he certainly didn’t achieve the fame his father did before stepping on campus.
In high school, Aubrey was dwarfed by his 6’2″ father. Standing at just 5’8″ through his sophomore season at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, Dawkins was less than a blip on the recruiting radar of any colleges. In the blink of an eye, however, Aubrey shot past his dad, growing to 6’5″ by the time his senior season hit full stride at Palo Alto High, and 6’6″ today. After putting up strong scoring and rebounding numbers in his final two years of high school, Aubrey Dawkins was yearning for more interest from the next level.
Instead, however, the younger Dawkins, like Spike Albrecht before him, had to go to prep school after graduating from high school to attract major college attention. He chose to fly coast-to-coast to powerhouse NEPSAC program New Hampton Prep in New Hampton, New Hampshire — the one-time home of former Wolverine Evan Smotrycz.
In prep school, Dawkins’s game continued to evolve, and his shooting and athleticism, along with his ideal size, pedigree, and exposure, figured to turn him into a more coveted prospect.
But the season in New Hampshire merely turned up mid-major offers from the likes of Rhode Island and Dayton — respectable programs, to be sure, but far from elite.
Enter John Beilein’s watchful eye.
With a few roster spots still available on Michigan’s 2014-15 roster, Beilein kept his options open and reached out to Dawkins after the Maize and Blue’s Elite Eight finish in March. The scouting and scouring paid off, as Dawkins didn’t take long to buy what the Wolverines were selling despite having been recruited much longer by the Flyers of Dayton.
On April 28, Dawkins pledged to spend his college years in Ann Arbor and signed in the late signing period a little more than a week after. With his prayers answered, Dawkins’s future is now his own to write.
What He Will Provide:
1. Athleticism: Michigan lost hyper-athlete Glenn Robinson III to the NBA this offseason, but Dawkins should be able to replace a good deal of that. It’s not hard to see in any of his highlight videos that Dawkins can simply jump out of the gym. Beilein’s offense has developed more and more over the years to include increased fast break and alley-oop opportunities, as he’s recruited better athletes, and it should be no different this year. With a very young team, the coach will obviously be quick to pull the leash on anyone throwing up wild alley-oop attempts, but with the way Dawkins jumps, he won’t miss many. Dawkins’s quickness and prep school experience should also help him develop into a plus-defender in time.
2.Shooting: At this point in his career, Dawkins is not the most comfortable player with the ball in his hands driving to the basket, but he will benefit immensely from players like Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, and Spike Albrecht, who will all be able to find him sitting on the perimeter waiting to kill the defense for leaving him open. Dawkins possesses an easy stroke and a quick release that doesn’t need much work. If he can knock down his outside shots with consistency, he’ll work his way into minutes, and he looks capable of stretching the defense at this point.
What He Will Have to Work On:
1.Ball-handling: There’s plenty of video on Dawkins out there, but there’s not a whole lot of him dribbling. That’s usually a sign that a player has work to do on his handles, and ESPN’s scouting report says as much:
“If Dawkins wants to take his game to another level, he must get better handling pressure while dribbling. His handle can get sloppy when defenders get into him-especially when he goes left.”
2. Strength: It’s great to be a shooter in Beilein’s offense, and it’s always a plus to be an athlete, but to excel at the highest level, Dawkins will need to be comfortable putting the ball on the floor and driving to the hole on occasion as well. With guys like Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin in front of him, Dawkins has to provide something those players can’t to see significant time this season. Both of them can shoot as well as, if not better than, Dawkins at this point, and are probably better slashers as well. Look for Dawkins to really focus on becoming a lockdown defender and diversifying his offensive game.
Burning Question: Can Dawkins win the back-up spot to Zak Irvin and Caris LeVert?
It’s safe to assume right now that LeVert and Irvin will both be starting on the wings and play 30+ minutes per game. But that leaves probably 10-15 minutes a night. Aubrey Dawkins has the size, shooting, and athleticism to compete for that handful of minutes, but he’ll be going against fellow freshmen Kam Chatman and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, and Spike Albrecht on occasion.
Stat Predictions: 1.0 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.3 turnovers, 45% FG, 36% 3pt., 75% FT, 5 minutes per game
Bottom Line: Dawkins is very similar to a freshman Tim Hardaway, Jr. a few years back, but he doesn’t have as easy a path to playing time as the NBA sophomore did. John Beilein certainly loves Dawkins’s shooting and leaping abilities right now, and like Abdur-Rahkman, I think Dawkins will play spot minutes, but he’ll be hard-pressed to find consistent playing time with a few experienced guards in his way.