Wednesday, February 13, 2019

National honor the latest indicator of freshman point guard Devon Dotson’s rapid development

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) inbounds the ball during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) inbounds the ball during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Mere hours after turning in what Kansas coach Bill Self said “may have been his best game,” freshman point guard Devon Dotson was named the national freshman of the week by CBS Sports and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Dotson, who played all 45 minutes and dropped a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds in KU’s overtime win at TCU on Monday night, averaged 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.3 steals in three games from Feb. 5-11 to earn the honor.

“He shot it, he competed, he got downhill, he did a great job defensively the entire game,” Self said of Dotson’s monster effort at TCU. “I thought he was terrific.”

This week’s honor marked the second time this season that Dotson had received a weekly award — he was named Big 12 newcomer of the week on Dec. 31 — and was the continuation of an uptick in his play since the start of Big 12 Conference competition.


Nick Krug

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) and Kansas guard Quentin Grimes (5) congratulate Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) after Dotson's steal and a bucket during the first half, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at Allen Fieldhouse.

After averaging 11.2 points per game in the 12 nonconference games leading up to Big 12 play, Dotson is averaging 13.2 points per game against Big 12 foes — second on the team — and also ranks third on the team in rebounding (4.4 per game) and first in assists since the start of conference play.

All of those numbers together give him season-averages of 12 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

But beyond his numbers, which are solid by freshman standards at any program, Dotson has emerged as the engine that makes the Kansas offense go — so much so that Self has said multiple times that he “can’t take him off the court.”

That theory was put to the test during Monday’s victory, when Dotson played every minute of KU’s tough road win, but nearly had to come out in overtime after his right calf cramped up following a foul on a drive to the rim.

With Dotson writhing in pain and three of the eight scholarship players available already on the bench after fouling out, Self said his young point guard had just one option.

“He wasn’t going to come off the floor,” Self jokingly rehashed Tuesday night during his weekly “Hawk Talk” radio show. “It wasn’t like he showed a lot of courage. He wasn’t going to come off the floor, period.”

But what if he had to?

“Then one of (the walk-ons) would’ve played,” Self conceded. “(Sophomore walk-on Chris) Teahan would’ve gone in the game. Chris is a good player. He just hasn’t had any opportunities to play this year because we haven’t had very many blowout games. And (fellow walk-on) Garrett Luinstra’s a good player. He’s got to do some things from a strength standpoint, but he’s got some stuff to his game, without question.”


Nick Krug

Kansas guard Devon Dotson (11) drives against Kansas State guard Barry Brown Jr. (5) during the second half, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Dotson stayed in, gutting out six clutch free throws to ice the game down the stretch, which inspired former KU point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who knew a thing or two about toughness and big numbers, to proclaim on Twitter that Dotson was, “A DAWG!!!!!!”

Recalled Dotson of the brief conversation between Self and him after the cramping occurred: “He said, ‘You got it. Knock them down.’ He asked me, ‘You can do it?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ I was thinking I had it. I just wanted to get the win, lock in and just take it one at a time and knock it down.”

For the week, Dotson shot 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) from the floor and 5-of-12 (41.7) from 3-point range. For the season, he’s up to 49.2 percent from the floor and 42.1 percent from 3-point range on 57 attempts, which ties him for fourth on the team.

“You know, I think 7 (vs. TCU) is the most (3-point) attempts he’s had this year and 4 is the most makes he’s had,” Self said Tuesday night. “If he can make 40 percent of his wide-open, deep looks, that’s darn good. People go to the bank with that. The thing I like most about it is, he’s looking for his shot more than he’s done in the past, which is something that he needs to do.”

Given Dotson’s lightning-fast quickness and attack-the-paint-at-all-costs approach, Self said Dotson’s improved shooting from the outside could do wonders for KU’s half-court offense in the weeks ahead, particularly if defenders feel the need to come out on him to contest his jump shot.

“The more he’s pressured, the more opportunity he has to force help,” Self said. “I think it helps. But I also think that no matter who we’re playing, every coach in the league is going to say, 'Keep him out of the paint. Even if he’s on a roll, they’re still going to say, ‘Keep him out of the paint.’”

If he were looking for a specific button to push with his freshman point guard, which, throughout his Hall of Fame coaching career Self has been known to do, the Kansas coach said there were elements of Dotson’s game that still needed work and were just starting to round into shape.

He compared Dotson’s development to that of a quarterback in football who throws a lot of touchdowns and gets by on ability, but can become an even more dangerous passer by understanding how to read and/or manipulate defenses.

“There’s some things you can certainly nitpick and say he needs to do this better or he needs do that better,” Self said. “... But the way that he competed and the way that he’s learned to compete, we can’t take him off the court. He’s too valuable.”


Michael Sillman 6 months, 1 week ago

I certainly understand Self’s position but you could also make the point that Dotson is too important to play every minute. The Jayhawks need him on the court at the end of game with fresh legs to get us to the finish. It sure seems like stealing him some rest earlier in the game is worth the risk.

David McNickle 6 months, 1 week ago

Once Garrett comes back I think Dotson will probably get 4 to 6 minutes rest a game. Don't think anyone else can run the offense or shut down the opponent's PG.

Tony Bandle 6 months, 1 week ago

The story goes that when Bill went into Devon's home for the big recruiting pitch, he simply told him and his family that, unlike other recruits who were told they would compete for a starting spot, he would be the KU starting point guard from day one and proceeded to explain all the pressures that would go with that responsibility. Supposedly, Devon didn't flinch at all and accepted every challenge.

I think we'll see him back next year but that may be it if he continues to grow as he has. Once again, poor, old Bill Self cannot recruit or evaluate talent. What a shame!!

Steve Zimmerman 6 months, 1 week ago

If he grows a bit taller and stronger, I think he'll be worthy of top10 NBA prospects conversation.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 1 week ago

It would be nice to see them give him just a plain old pure bottle of water when he starts cramping, and an extra 1 or 2 before the game. And definitely skip the gu and jells. They are so loaded with sugar the body has to suck liquid out of the cells in order to digest the sugar. Absolutely the worst thing possible for cramps.

If he's going to continue logging the big minutes, he'd be wise to also learn from Devonte and give up the sodas. They load the body with phosphorous which forces potassium out of the body, which is a common cause of cramping. D'tae when from being a cramp magnet his Jr year to being cramp free as a senior.

Lessons learned the hardware through many years of running and cycling.

Ken Stclair 6 months, 1 week ago

Dotson is already a great player and will only get better. He did have a great game Monday. But he does need to watch his turnovers. TCU was able to come back largely because of how he was handling the ball. That gets overlooked because KU won. But that will improve as he gets more experience. He could truly be one of the best KU point guards of all time. That's saying a lot!

Bj Cassady 6 months, 1 week ago

He reminds me of Jo Jo White. He is a gamer. I would like for us to get a great point guard and have him as a 2 guard.

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