Devon Dotson, his family members and Kansas’ basketball coaches proved last week they are all capable of keeping a big secret.
Dotson, a 6-foot-1 senior point guard from Providence Day High School in Charlotte, N.C., orally committed to play hoops at KU on Wednesday night in front of a trio of Jayhawk coaches who’d traveled to North Carolina to visit him.
Word of Dotson’s pledge was kept hush-hush until two nights later, when Rivals.com’s No. 17-ranked player in the recruiting class of 2018 revealed his college choice at a pep rally live-streamed on various Internet websites before his high school’s Homecoming football game.
“The best part was that I got to tell coach (Bill) Self in person about my decision!” Dotson wrote in his personal blog at USAtoday.com. “He dropped into my house for a last-minute visit Wednesday and I came downstairs and talked to him for a few minutes then just told him, ‘I’m coming to Kansas.’
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“He was with coach (Kurtis) Townsend and coach (Norm) Roberts and all three of them went crazy just screaming and hugging me. They were pretty fired up!” Dotson added in the blog.
The 170-pound Dotson — who moved from his hometown of Chicago to North Carolina in sixth grade — averaged 24.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists a game his junior year at Providence Day. This past summer, he averaged 19.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game for Team Charlotte AAU.
“I’d have to say one of the biggest factors that went into my decision was the relationship I’ve formed with coach Self. He’s just a great guy and someone that you can trust,” wrote Dotson, who unbuttoned a shirt at his pep rally to reveal a Jayhawks T-shirt to cheering classmates.
“Plus, he (Self) is a Hall of Famer and I know that I’m gonna be in great hands there,” Dotson added in his blog. He chose KU over Maryland, UCLA, Clemson, North Carolina State and Florida.
“One of the things I love about Kansas is that they let their guards go downhill and attack and that’s my game. I love playing tough perimeter defense and I love their up-tempo offense and I’m confident that I’ll excel there,” Dotson added.
He’s one of three players to commit to KU thus far in the class of 2018. The others: No. 25 Silvio De Sousa (6-9, 220, senior, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.) and No. 33 David McCormack (6-10, 260, senior, Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.).
“Now, of course, I’m gonna be going hard after some other players in my class trying to get them to join me. I’m gonna be talking to Zion (Williamson). I feel like me and Quentin Grimes would play well together and Romeo Langford too. Those are the players I’m focusing on for now,” wrote Dotson, ready to play the role of recruiter for Kansas.
Grimes, a 6-5 senior combo guard from College Park High in The Woodlands, Texas, who is ranked No. 11 nationally by Rivals.com, made an official visit to KU on Friday through Sunday after previously visiting Texas and Kentucky. He’s headed to Marquette for a final official visit next weekend.
Langford, a 6-4 senior combo guard from New Albany (Ind.) High, who is ranked No. 6 nationally, will visit KU on Oct. 27-29. He visited North Carolina last weekend and has also visited UCLA and Vanderbilt, with Kentucky and Indiana also on his list.
“It (UNC visit) went good,” Langford’s father, Tim, told Zagsblog.com. “They said he can fit in well in their style of play. They like to push the ball.”
Williamson, a 6-6 senior forward from Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School ranked No. 2 nationally, visited KU for the Sept. 30 Late Night in the Phog. He visited Kentucky for Big Blue Madness last weekend and also has Duke, UCLA, Clemson and South Carolina on his list. Others at the UK season-opening event were prospects Bol Bol, Darius Garland and 2019 forward James Wiseman, who also has KU on his list.
Canadian hip-hop star Drake stole the show at UK’s Madness event, telling the Kentucky crowd he wants to perform a free concert for Kentucky students before the year ends.
Drake was photographed wearing Williamson’s high school jersey earlier this year.
“When your favorite rapper wears your jersey, the feeling is sensational,” Williamson told USA Today several months ago.
At Big Blue Madness, Drake, according to SECCountry.com, told the fans: “I’m a Wildcat through and through.”
KU currently has 12 scholarship players on the 2017-18 roster, one below the limit of 13. The Jayhawks, who will lose Devonté Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk to graduation, have received commitments from three players — Dotson, De Sousa and McCormack. So KU has technically filled its allotment of scholarships for the 2018-19 season.
However, KU could lose as many as four non-senior players — Malik Newman, Billy Preston, Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick — to the NBA, meaning up to four more scholarships could be available.
“I can’t talk about specifics, but I think we’re off to a decent start, above-average start with a chance maybe to close strong,” KU coach Self said of first-semester recruiting. “We need to have a good class because obviously there’s a lot of potential out there for us to lose guys after this year.”
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi on Dotson
“Dotson has shades of former national player of the year and Kansas great Frank Mason, but he is 3 inches taller,” recruiting analyst Paul Biancardi wrote at ESPN.com. “Both stand out with their open-floor speed, drive and kick awareness, putting pressure on the defense as well as setting the tone with their on-ball pressure defense. Both players have a common trait of improving over the course of their high school careers and both make a difference when it comes to winning and neither has to score to be impactful. He (Dotson) displays to a lesser degree the explosiveness and finish-ability of Derrick Rose with a strong upper body at the same stage. Growing up in Chicago, Dotson is a huge fan of the former Chicago Bull and now Cleveland Cavaliers star.”
More on Embiid leaving after one year
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, a one-and-done player at KU (2013-14), in an interview session Thursday at Allen Fieldhouse told reporters he “actually decided to stay (a second year) because I love this place so much, but I was kind of pushed to leave.”
Self hinted Friday at KU Basketball Media Day that it was Embiid’s family that may have made the ultimate call for him to enter the 2014 Draft.
“I would have preferred for him to stay all four years. (But) Joe had to go. He had to go,” Self said of the player who was ready to be paid handsomely as the No. 3 overall pick in the draft.
“But Joe was going through a phase. If you guys remember, he had hurt his back, didn’t finish the season. He was emotional, and he loves it here, and he did express — I don’t remember all the details, but he did express that he would like to return. But the reality of it is that was not in his best interest over time.
“And his family and people close to him, within his family scope, convinced him otherwise. It did not disappoint me that he left. I shouldn’t say that. It probably disappointed me, but I knew it was best for him. He needed to go,” Self added.