Duke's Andre Dawkins hopes to shoot his way onto NBA roster
Two years ago, Andre Dawkins hit the pause button on his basketball career.
He resumed it with earnest last year at Duke and on Wednesday took the latest steps in what he hopes is an unlikely fast-forward to the game’s highest level.
Dawkins was among six draft-eligible players on the Charlotte Hornets’ practice court Wednesday taking part in an NBA pre-draft workout for the team that owns two first-round picks plus a selection in the middle of the second round.
A 6-5, 215-pound player known at Duke for his 3-point shooting prowess, Dawkins is attempting to prove he’s NBA caliber even after a redshirt senior season in which he played fewer than 15 minutes a game for the Blue Devils.
“I’m excited,” Dawkins said. “I’m just trying to come out and showcase my abilities and that I’m ready to play. I have the ability to play at this level. It’s exciting out here. I’m looking forward to getting to the rest of them and hopefully hearing my name called on (June) 26th.”
It’s been a sometimes difficult road for Dawkins to get to this point. He sat out the 2013-14 season, not even practicing with the Blue Devils, as he received counseling for depression that stemmed from his sister’s death in a 2009 car accident.
In April 2013, he decided to play one more season with Duke and he was a role player on the 2013-14 26-9 squad.
On Wednesday, Dawkins was the only one of the NBA hopefuls on hand who didn’t start regularly and star during his final season of college basketball.
Missouri’s Jabari Brown was a first-team All-SEC selection and led that league in scoring. Drew Crawford led Northwestern in scoring and made third-team all-Big Ten.
Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels was the ACC’s defensive player of the year and Lamar Patterson led Pittsburgh in scoring and assists to make second team all-ACC.
P.J. Hairston didn’t play at UNC in 2013-14 as he was kicked off the team following an NCAA investigation into improper benefits. But he led the Tar Heels in scoring as a sophomore in 2012-13.
Meanwhile, Dawkins started only four games for Duke last season. He averaged 7.9 points per game while playing an average of 13.7 minutes in his 33 appearances overall.
Still, he made 40.7 percent of his 3-point shots during his four seasons at Duke. His goal on his pre-draft visits with teams is to show he can do other things as well. In his words, he wants to “show a few things I wasn’t able to show at Duke.”
“Stuff off the dribble,” Dawkins said. “Getting to the basket. Mid-range. Stuff like that. It was a different system at Duke. I was primarily asked to shoot 3s there.”
Dawkins is attempting to become the second Duke player in the last three years to go from a mostly reserve role at Duke to hearing his name called in the NBA Draft.
Miles Plumlee played 20.5 minutes a game for the Blue Devils in 2012-13, averaging 6.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. Still, the Indiana Pacers liked him enough to make him a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
He played in 14 games for the Pacers as a rookie, shuttling between the Indiana bench and numerous stints in the NBA Developmental League. Last July 27, he was traded to Phoenix where he started 79 of the Suns’ 80 games this season and averaged 8.1 points with 7.8 rebounds.
Plumlee had rare athleticism for a 6-10 center. Dawkins has that dead-eye jump shot.
“That’s always going to be my calling card,” Dawkins said. “I will try to add things as my career goes on. My shooting will obviously be the thing that I rely on the most. But I will try to show I can do some other things as well.”
A host of NBA teams are intrigued enough in Dawkins to have him visit their facilities for workouts.
Prior to Wednesday’s visit to Charlotte, Dawkins worked out for Sacramento, Chicago and Phoenix. He’s headed to the New York Knicks next, followed by trips to Philadelphia and Indiana next week.
He’s be traveling to Dallas and Detroit and said a few more visits, including Washington, will be set up if time allows.
His trip to Charlotte allowed him to spend time with former Duke guard Gerald Henderson, who just completed his fourth NBA season with the Hornets (formerly Bobcats).
Interestingly, it was Henderson’s decision to enter the NBA early in 2009 that spurred Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to bring Dawkins to the Blue Devils a year earlier than planned. That allowed Dawkins to be part of the 2010 NCAA championship squad.
Dawkins has known Henderson since his campus visit as a recruit for Duke and he dined on a chicken and rice dinner prepared by Henderson’s personal chef on Tuesday night.
“Gerald, we never played together but he’s always been a good friend,” Dawkins said. “We’ve always been pretty close.”
Dawkins hopes he’s close — a few weeks — from following Henderson again. This time, it would be to the NBA.