Dawkins vows to be 'different player' in Duke return

Apr. 12, 2013 @ 06:07 PM

His year away from basketball complete, Andre Dawkins will resume his Duke career next season.

Dawkins met with the Blue Devil coaching staff on Thursday and finalized his status for the 2013-14 season.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Chesapeake, Va., Dawkins took a redshirt season in 2012-13 as he dealt with the lingering mental effects of his sister Lacey Dawkins’ death in a December 2009 car accident. Unlike most players who redshirt, Dawkins did not practice with the Blue Devils nor did he sit on the bench in street clothes during games.

He did sit behind the bench for most home games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He also worked out with a personal trainer off campus to stay in playing shape.

On Thursday, Dawkins announced on his Twitter feed that he is back as a full member of the Blue Devils.

“Excited to say that I will be a part of the 2013-2014 Duke men’s basketball team,” Dawkins said. “Thanks to everyone for the support throughout the year.”

Lacey Dawkins died in a car accident while she and her mother, Tammy Hill-Dawkins, were traveling through West Virginia to see Andre Dawkins play as a freshman for Duke.

Dawkins played in 109 games, starting 21, over his first three seasons with the Blue Devils. He made 40.1 percent of his 3-point attempts, and 42.9 percent of his shots overall, while averaging 6.9 points per game.

As a junior in 2011-12, Dawkins started 14 games but was not consistent. He was spectacular on some nights, scoring 21 points or more four times. But he also has six games in which he failed to score.

After scoring 22 points in a win a Florida State on Feb. 23, 2012, Dawkins scored only eight points over Duke’s final six games. He made only 3 of 23 shots over those six games, including 2 of 15 3-pointers.

In April 2012, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski discussed Dawkins’ career with his family and a decision was made for the player to take a rare redshirt for what would have been his senior season.

The break from basketball helped, Dawkins said Thursday.

“This year was tough to be away,” Dawkins said on Twitter, “but I feel like I have grown immensely off the court and am ready to come back and help the team win.”

Dawkins’ father, also named Andre Dawkins, said in October that the time away from basketball allowed his son to open up about the tragedy like he never had before.

Dawkins is set to graduate from Duke next month, which means he could have transferred to another school and played immediately. But his parents have said repeatedly that Dawkins loves Duke and wanted to finish his career with the Blue Devils.

He intends to do just that, but with a new number. After wearing No. 20 his first three seasons, Dawkins will switch to No. 34. That number was worn for the last four seasons by Ryan Kelly, Dawkins’ roommate and close friend.

But Dawkins said the decision has more to do with his respect for Ray Allen, the longtime NBA sharp-shooting guard who also wears No. 34.

The new number, Dawkins said, is part of his new outlook as he prepares to finish his Duke career on a high note.

“I want to get a fresh start and be a different player than I was,” Dawkins said. “In October you will see a different Andre Dawkins.”