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Clovis Star Headed To the Big Time

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Marquette-bound Dawson finds rhythm, on and off the court

To say that John Dawson moves to the beat of his own drum would hardly be necessary.


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Dawson is, in fact, a part-time drummer.

“I look at everything as a rhythm,” the Clovis High senior point guard says. “Everything I do.”

This even pertains to basketball, where he serves as something akin to a lead vocalist for the Clovis Wildcats. Music and basketball share similar traits, he says.

“I believe it does,” says the 6-foot-3 Dawson, who was born in Albuquerque.

“Some people might not think so, but I do. It’s about adding all the pieces together. It’s a big factor that helps me.”

Dawson is on that (very) short list of New Mexicans who are moving on to Division I next season. He has decided to attend Marquette of the Big East, choosing the Golden Eagles over Creighton, Wyoming, UTEP and Colorado State. He made visits to all except UTEP.

Dawson, who averaged 15 points and six assists for Clovis last season, said Marquette’s impending departure from the Big East — it is expected to form its own conference with St. John’s, Georgetown, DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence and Villanova — has not swayed him from heading to Milwaukee.

“It’s a great school. I’m going for the school, not the conference,” says Dawson, who was in town Friday as Clovis met Manzano. “They’ve got a student-teacher ratio of 16-1.”


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It is, in part, a promise he’s fulfilling to his parents, that he would go to college.

His father is a gospel songwriter. Dawson, who gave up baseball and football when he got to Clovis High, sometimes plays drums as backup to his parents at their local church.

He is the spark plug for one of the state’s best teams.

“He’s a great kid. I’ll really miss him in that respect,” Clovis coach Matt King says. “That was one of the things about him that was so attractive (to colleges) in the recruiting process. He’s just a great kid to be around.”

The music analogy that Dawson applies to his own performance is entirely appropriate, King says.

“That’s really a good way of putting it,” says King. “The rhythm of the game, if it’s going in a good direction, he’s really comfortable. When he’s in rhythm, and he’s in that place, he’s a really good player.”

King, a former La Cueva player and assistant, says he began to notice Dawson’s metamorphosis as a point guard about 12 to 15 months ago.

“The motivation of this kid is amazing,” he says. “Not so much physically, but mentally. He gets it now. He has a much better understanding of the game. He understands the value of being patient. He understands the value of being able to change speeds. Consistency will always trump occasional greatness. That will be a key to his success in the future. Can he be consistently good? Because we know he’ll be occasionally great.”

The Wildcats, who have already been up this way to play Rio Rancho, continue this brief road trip this afternoon at 3 against Sandia.

The Wildcats, who don’t have their home opener until next weekend, will log plenty of hours on their team bus; they’ll also visit Oñate and Española Valley, plus Carlsbad and Hobbs, and Clovis has another trip to the metro area Jan. 18-19 to face Cleveland and Valley.

On Jan. 25-26, Clovis will be certainly be a prime destination, when the Wildcats host Bryce Alford-led La Cueva and Cullen Neal-led Eldorado on back-to-back nights.

“They’re great players,” Dawson said of Alford, who has committed to New Mexico, and Neal, who is going to Saint Mary’s. “They can score 50 points a night, easy. They’re just different types of players (than me). But I love playing against great players.”

When asked to describe his own game, Dawson, who expects to play the 1 and the 2 at Marquette, says only: “I would say I’m pretty smooth. My mentality is to make people better around me, win any way we can.”