Cards in mix with elite SF Dawson?

Branden Dawson, a Top 25 2011 prospect from Gary, IN., was one of the top small forward's at the King City Classic last week in Cleveland, Ohio. While Dawson is currently concentrating on a list of five schools, Louisville is trying to get in the mix this summer. What does Dawson think about the Cards? has the story…

Branden Dawson, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Gary (IN) Lew Wallace, is a priority recruit this July for some of the nation's top programs, especially after an outstanding performance in Cleveland last week at the King City Classic where he showed an improved perimeter game.

Always recognized as a big-time athlete and one of the top rebounding wing forwards in the 2011 recruiting class, Dawson wowed coaches in Ohio with an improved outside shot and better ball handling skills on the wing.

Though Dawson doesn't plan to make a college decision this summer, five programs currently stand out for the Top 25 prospect.

"I'm at a real good pace," Dawson said of his recruitment. "Michigan State is up there. So are Georgetown, Purdue, Indiana and UCLA."

While those five programs currently comprise Dawson list of favorites, a few schools are trying to jump into the mix with Dawson this summer, including Louisville. Rick Pitino and assistant Tim Fuller caught Dawson's act at the King City Classic.

"Kentucky, Louisville, and Missouri have jumped on and have called," Dawson said.

Though Louisville currently has a commitment from Ryan Taylor, the Cardinals are still recruiting several 2011 small forwards this summer, including Dawson, 6'8 Akron standout Jakarr Sampson and 6'5 North Carolina star Deuce Bello.

"I got a phone call early this summer from an [Louisville] assistant coach and he was telling me that they wanted me and that I was a ‘dawg," Dawson said. "I think Louisville is a great program. I've watched them over the years and they're a good team with a good coach, a really good coach. They're just a real good [program]."

Dawson said he's interested in Pitino's program and is willing to visit the UofL campus to learn more about what the Cardinals have to offer.

"I will consider Louisville and take a visit," Dawson said. "It's always good to expand your options. So I would like to visit Louisville and check it out."

Dawson said he will make official visits - prospects are allowed to visit five schools - this fall and might not make his decision until next spring. Dawson, who is considering leaving Lew Wallace for a school in Las Vegas for his final season, has a pretty good idea which schools he'll officially visit in the coming months.

"Georgetown, UCLA, I've already visited Michigan State and it was real good, Purdue and Indiana," Dawson said. "Indiana is close to home and everybody wants me to go to Purdue at home and be the next Glen Robinson. Michigan State is a good fit and I like them. They are two hours away from home so it's real cool."

What factors will help Dawson chose a college? "I'm a student first so a good education is the first priority," Dawson said. "And then I'm looking for a good ball club, a run and gun offense and a coach that knows how to run his program."

Dawson had a great week at the King City Classic, earning a Top 5 camp ranking from Clark Francis of the Hoop Scoop, in addition to being listed as the No. 1 wing forward in Cleveland. Clearly, Dawson's hard work this spring is paying off during the July evaluation period, a great thing with so many college coaches keeping tabs on him throughout the month.

"I'm trying to show the college coaches that I can shoot the rock and have an all-around game," Dawson said. "I'm in the gym 24/7 and I put in the work and hit the weights. I‘ve got an assistant coach from my high school team that works with me on my shooting and ball handing. My ball handing, midrange game and shot have improved."

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