Fearlessness and relentlessness are two things Jeff McInnis knows a lot about.
As a Tar Heel, he played on one of UNC’s most beloved teams whose primary attributes were fearlessness and relentlessness – the 1994-95 Final Four squad that also featured Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse.
Now, as head coach of Team Charlotte on the Under Armour AAU circuit, McInnis sees the same virtues in Devon Dotson.
“He’s a dog,” McInnis said. “He’s a great point guard who is way ahead of his time as a player. The way he thinks, it’s like an older guy. He was originally going to play on our 16U team, but after he practiced with our 17U team, he showed he was the best player on the floor. We ended up winning the Under Armour championship partly because of him. He’s a winner.”
With a laugh, Dotson agreed with his AAU coach about being “a dog” on the court.
“I think that just means that you don’t back down to anyone,” Dotson explained. “If someone tries to push you around, you let them know about it and then try to dominate them on defense. You try to kill them on both ends.”
A sophomore from Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day, Dotson is a native of Chicago and models his game after Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
“I’m very fast and I stay poised on the court and I try not to let anything rattle me, “said Dotson. “My ball-handling, I pride myself on that. My jump shot is good in the mid-range, but I need to improve from the three-point line.”
“I grew up watching him (Rose),” Dotson continued. “I used to go to high school games when I was in elementary school. Just seeing him play, he had it all. He was quick, fast, could jump and dunk. Since then I’ve practiced his moves and stuff.”
While he doesn’t quite possess Rose’s level of athleticism, McInnis believes he’s not far off.
“You see the dunks he has in games, coming down in traffic, he’s surprised me because he wasn’t even doing that this summer,” McInnis said. "He loves to work and you’re starting to see it. He can get better, but the sky is the limit.”
After his strong performance on the AAU circuit this past summer, Dotson’s profile and recruitment rose to a national level. He started receiving interest from Maryland, Ohio State, Kentucky, Florida and North Carolina. He also claims offers from UNC-Charlotte, Clemson, Tennessee, Rutgers and Georgia.
Assistant coach Steve Robinson watched him during the fall evaluation period at Providence Day, while Roy Williams and assistant coach C.B. McGrath scouted Dotson at this year’s Chick fil A Classic in Columbia, S.C. In front of Williams, Dotson led his team in points (18) and assists (5) and added five rebounds, against Atlanta (Ga.) Pace Academy and 2017 UNC target Wendell Carter.
“Coach (Steve) Robinson left feedback that he liked Devon as a player,” said Devon’s father, Dana Dotson. “He thought he was fast, explosive and played with great poise. Coach (Steve) Robinson encouraged Devon to keep working to improve so he could be the best player possible.”
This past weekend, Dotson and his family attended the Tar Heels’ win over N.C. State.
“I got there and someone walked me through the tunnel down to our seats,” Dotson said. “It was a nice visit with a great atmosphere. The fans were into it, so it was a good visit. During the game, I was watching Marcus Paige and Nate Britt. They play fast at times, but they also make the right passes and plays when their team needs them to.”
After the game, Dotson spoke with McGrath and Williams.
“They just said they saw me play and they love me,” said Dotson. “They like how hard I play and my IQ. Roy said he is going to try to come down to a game soon.”
North Carolina already has a commitment from Rechon “Leaky” Black, a 2018 point guard. That won’t hurt Carolina’s chances, however. Several players in the Charlotte area, including Dotson and Black, played travel ball together when they were younger.
“I felt like we were one of the best backcourts out there,” Dotson said. “We did well at all the national tournaments. It was fun playing with him and we play well together. His dad has talked to me a few times about Carolina, telling me to come on down to Carolina and stuff like that.”
Dotson at UNC last Saturday