Dec. 11, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, NC - The first gift Joshua Dawson ever received was a basketball goal. Soon after, he received a hoop.
It should come as no surprise then that now, 18 years later, Dawson is excelling on the hardwood.
The three-time state champion point guard at Kinston High School has had little problem transitioning to the college game. He currently averages 9.9 points and 6.3 assists per game for Fayetteville State. What's more, he's gotten the respect of the more veteran Broncos.
"I had to be a leader in high school," Dawson said. "I was hoping I could come in and they'd want me to be a leader. That's what I like to do, I like to lead."
That leadership has been on display from the get-go this season. In his second collegiate game, Dawson scored 25 points in leading the Broncos to a win over Notre Dame College. He followed that performance up with four more double-digit scoring games in his next five contests. In his last three regular season games, Dawson has recorded 11, 10 and 11 assists against UNC Pembroke, Virginia-Lynchburg and Brevard College.
But even when he's struggled, such as perhaps early in an exhibition contest against Division I foe East Carolina, when he picked up two quick fouls and had to watch much of the first half from the bench, he's been the type of vocal leader coach Alphonza Kee hoped for.
"He's a guy who has been leading above his age since Day One," Kee said. "Even the high school coaches that talked to me, the opposition coaches who coached against him, said as an underclassman he was the same way. He's a unique guy who is just used to leadership and success. That's encouraging, that's maturing and winning. He wants to win at whatever he plays.
"You talk about recording seven assists and two turnovers (against ECU) in a game when you're in foul trouble. If he had gotten his regular minutes, he would've finished in double figures."
Dawson said he chose Fayetteville State in part because of the loyalty the coaching staff showed him from the beginning of the recruiting process.
"The coaches really came to see me every day," Dawson said. "It is close to home and my mom can come see my games, but the coaches really made an impact because they came to see me every week. They just continued to come, continued to come, just kept talking to me."
Dawson quickly earned the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's Rookie of the Week honor for the week ending November 30 after scoring 12 points and dishing 10 assists against Virginia-Lynchburg for his second consecutive double-double.
Dawson has also made his presence felt defensively. He's recorded 18 steals in eight games, good for the top total on the team.
"To be a great point guard, you have to be a great communicator," senior forward Paul Lane said. "Josh holds everything. He holds the communication ability, he holds the athleticism, he holds the skill, the talent and the work ethic. As long as you hold all those qualities, people will buy into you. And that's what he holds."
Dawson was well aware of the fact that the athletes would be bigger at this level. To prepare, the two-time area high school player of the year in Kinston spent plenty of time in the weight room and contacted a certain famous relative to help him transition to the next level. His great-uncle is Jerry Stackhouse, who played at the University of North Carolina and for 18 seasons in the NBA.
"Before I even came to college, I was calling him every day to see what I could do to become better," Dawson said. "However I can get better, that's how I want to get better. Knowing that he had to go through the same thing I'm going through, I called him a lot to see how I could get better."
Now his focus is on winning. The most-decorated player in his high school's history, Dawson has his aim set on helping the program get its first CIAA title since 1973.
"He's a winner and he wants to continue to be a winner," Kee said. "With his confidence, he's seen our vision and he believes in himself to help us get to that next level."