Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Indiana, is a young team, and its star player is upcoming junior Branden Dawson. The 6'-5" wing is a highly athletic performer with exciting potential. He flashed his ability at the recent Illinois team camp held in Champaign June 7.
Each team at the camp played four games, and many players were dragging by the end of the day. But Dawson wasn't willing to give into the exhaustion.
"I'm used to these camps. I just have to work hard and play my game and just have fun. You've got to get used to playing several games in a day. You've got to stay in shape. You've got to keep running, working hard."
Dawson's description of his game sounds simple enough, but he is obviously an expert at understatement.
"I can score, handle the ball, shoot."
Humility aside, Dawson is a quick-twitch athlete with overall skills that are advanced for his age. What makes him a top prospect is his desire to work hard on his game.
"The things I work on are my ball handling, my defense, everything."
His AAU schedule has been a busy one, giving Dawson chances to hone his game against outstanding competition.
"I play for the SYF AAU team. Both 16's and 17's. We've been doing good. We're going down to nationals in Vegas, so I hope we do good out there. We finished second in a tournament in Minnesota, and we finished second in Milwaukee."
Dawson is also pleased with the progress of his Lew Wallace team.
"We look good. Our guards are stronger. We're getting in the weight room and working every day. We want it. We're hungry for it. Last year, we got put out in the first round of sectionals. So we know we've just got to come back and redeem ourselves."
The precocious youngster has already received strong recruiting interest from several top schools.
"Indiana, Purdue, Georgetown, Xavier, Butler, IUPUI, Ohio State, UCLA. Illinois is recruiting me also."
Early rumors place Purdue at the head of the pack for his services, but Dawson didn't confirm that. When asked if it was possible for an Indiana athlete to leave the state for college, he gave the following answer.
"It is, it is. I'm just looking for the right place."