Image Courtesy: UCI Athletics
Dawson Baker is a 6’4 Junior Guard for the University of California, Irvine. This season Dawson averaged 15.3 points per game, leading UCI. He was 7th in ppg in the Big West while the Anteaters went 23-12 to be the number one team in the conference. Baker had a team high of 16 points in a loss against Oregon during the first round of the NIT.
Image Courtesy: UCI Athletics
I had a chance to interview Dawson and asked him 8 questions(through Instagram messages).
1. Q: “Being from a city so close to Irvine, did that affect your decision to go there?”
A: “It was nice having the option to be closer to home and also out of high school I wasn’t highly recruited and UC Irvine was my only official offer, hence the number 1.”
Dawson graduated from Capistrano Valley High School in 2018 which is only about a 30 minute drive from Irvine allowing him to stay close to home. In high school he averaged over 18ppg in his 4 years.
2. Q: “You have 2 siblings who have played college basketball, how did that affect you as a player?”
A: “It definitely set the expectations high for me. It was nice having people close to me who accomplished what I was dreaming of but we were competitive and rivals with each other like most brothers are and that always motivated me the most and the pursuit to be better than them led me this far.”
Out of 6 of his siblings he had 2 brothers play college basketball. His brother Davis played at UC Irvine for a season (2004-05) averaging 3ppg then played 3 seasons at Southern Utah averaging 6.5ppg in 07-08 season, 17.4ppg in the 08-09 season, then 16.9ppg his final year there. Dawson’s other brother Dusty spent a season at Saddleback but saw no minutes then went on to play 3 years at Weber State averaging 5.4ppg his sophomore year(2015-16), 7.9 his junior(2016-17), and 7.2 his Senior year(2017-18). We need to see those 3 in a 3v3 tournament.
3. Q: “You speak more than one language, what language is it and do you think it will affect your decision on playing basketball anywhere after college?”
A: “I speak Chuukese and I don’t see that language in particular affect my decision on playing basketball after college but being immersed in another culture and learning another language it has made me well versed and adaptable if I were to play over seas.”
Chuukese is most commonly spoken in Micronesia where Dawson went on a mission trip. He also went to Guam on his mission trip and spent 2 years after high school on it. This shows the dedication of Dawson to things outside of basketball like faith and helping others. Just imagine not playing basketball for 2 years then being able to average double digits when you get back.
4. Q: “Who is your favorite basketball of all time?”
A: “Kobe Bryant.”
5. Q: “Who do you like to base your game/play style on?”
A: “A lot of two way players like Demar Derozan, Paul George and Devin Booker.”
This is a question I love to ask, as an aspiring basketball scout/coach, and I love comparing my friends to NBA players. Dawson’s answer responds to a question later on so I’ll come back to this subject.
6. Q: “When did you realize you could really go somewhere with basketball after high school?”
A: “I always dreamed big and knew that I could play after high-school I don’t think there was a specific time where I realized I always thought I would there was never a question in my mind that I could, and carried myself like I was a division 1 talent, with the work and confidence things worked out.”
7. Q: “Going into your senior year next season, what did you learn this year that will help you?”
A: “I became a lot better scoring off the ball and finding ways to score in transition more than my first two years and I look forward to bringing that in my senior years.”
Players tend to focus on what they aren’t the best at or not good at but a lot of players need to focus on what they improved as well. Dawson knows what he improved which allows him to focus on other parts as well. When a player also knows what part of their game got better, it opens room for the rest of their game.
Q: “If any pro scout or coach is talking to you, what are some main things you’d say about you as a player?”
A: “I’d say I’m well rounded as a player and contribute on both ends with my IQ, size, and my ability to shoot the ball I can space the floor. I have a good feel for the game and can make plays with or without the ball. I have an act for scoring and will force defenses to play my shot and drive and my willingness to make the right play when help comes can cause problems for defenses. I play at my own pace and can draw fouls well when playing more aggressive defensive players.”
This relates back to the players he bases his game off of. Demar, Paul, and Devin are all players who can play well on both ends. All 3 of their games also allow them to find shots without the ball in their hands. Defense is a things that not a lot of guys can bring to the table alongside a good offensive game so Dawson is definitely a special player and deserves more looks. A lot of pro scouts may be looking at age but buckets are buckets.
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