``I knew I needed to step up my game and become the go-to guy," said the 6-foot-9, 235-pound junior power forward. "I had a lot to carry on my shoulders. I knew I couldn't fill Dave's shoes, but I tried."
Lauderdale, who averaged 20 points, 13 boards and 5 blocks as a sophomore at Solon High (Ohio), came up big this past spring and summer while playing with Tim Hewitt's Cleveland Titans.
``He had one game in Orlando where he blocked close to 20 shots," Hewitt said. "That's what he's capable of doing on the defensive end."
Lauderdale can also score on the low block and be a force on the glass, but he'd like to extend his game and be able to step out, handle the ball and knock down mid-range jumpers like his favorite player, Amare Stoudemire.
Lauderdale, 16, has had to grow up quickly. His mother, Carol, has multiple sclerosis and is not able to walk.
``It puts a lot more responsibility on me," said Lauderdale, who has one older sister who is in college. "I'm doing a lot of things that 16-year-olds aren't doing like transporting my mother to the dinner table, doing the chores that my dad can't do."
While Lauderdale may be more apt to remain close to home for college to be near his mother, he said he won't discount looking at schools further away. His current list includes Syracuse, North Carolina, N.C. State, Ohio State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Michigan and Wake Forest.
``David (Lighty) has brought a lot of people to the party the last couple of years," Hewitt said. "But the coaches have really been impressed with Dallas."
``The most important factor for me is academics and whatever I plan on majoring in," said the 3.0 student. "Of course, basketball is important – but not as important as education." ``Dallas is a great kid with a tremendous amount of character," Hewitt added. "He's very athletic for a big man his size and he's just starting to scratch the surface and see what he's capable of doing."