GARDEN GROVE, CA – Aubrey Dawkins emerged out of nowhere as a freshman to average 9.7 points per game in Big Ten play. With one year under his belt the sophomore shooting guard can’t help but smile wide when he begins to think about the upcoming season.
“Man, I’m excited for it,” said Dawkins. “Nothing is given to you so obviously you might look at it on paper, but it will take more than looking at it on paper to be a good team. I think if we can put the pieces together and the experience we have we should be really good.”
Before Dawkins begins his sophomore season he went to Southern California to test his skills at the Adidas Nations camp that plays host to 40 of the top college players. Through his first three games, Dawkins was averaging six points despite limited shot attempts.
“It’s been going alright,” Dawkins noted. “I’d like to be doing better, but I can’t complain. I wish I was more assertive, but all in all it’s been going well. A good overall experience. It’s fun to see different players. You get used to seeing some of the same guys so it’s a different group of guys that you can mix it up with.”
Dawkins also earned a Twitter mention from Draft Express analyst Mike Schmitz for his strong play during the camp’s opening session.
Michigan wing Aubrey Dawkins has been a pleasant surprise so far. Super bouncy, good size, frame that should fill out, can handle a little.
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) August 1, 2015
This time last year nobody expected Dawkins to become a key contributor for the Wolverines, but due to a variety of injury issues he found a spot in the rotation and easily surpassed expectations scoring 20 points in his first Big 10 game against Illinois. He shot 43.8% from the three-point line while also scoring a career high of 31 points against Rutgers late in the year.
“As a sophomore, I’m still young, everyone is one grade above since we didn’t bring anyone in. and we are still a younger class,” said Dawkins. “With the experience I have now and the experience our freshmen last year have there won’t be necessarily as much teaching and we should know the expectations and be ready to go.
“I’ve been ready to get into it and play my role on the time. I’ve been working hard on my game. Everybody knows the freshman-sophomore jump, but that’s not my focus I just want to win games and make the tournament. We didn’t have a very good year last year so just to do that would be great.”
While previous players like Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas have made the freshman to sophomore leap, Dawkins thinks the whole team should show improvement. The players took part in Camp Sanderson run by strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson.
“It went really well,” said Dawkins. “We were doing more explosive work, obviously putting more muscle on, but explosiveness working on our legs a lot which was making us just stronger and better athletes. It’s been going well. I think you will see a much different Michigan team next year in terms of explosiveness and athleticism.”
One player that Dawkins specifically noted was redshirt freshman D.J. Wilson.
“D.J. looks like a whole new player out there. I’m excited for him so that he can show everybody what they couldn’t see last year. He should be very good.”
“D.J. looks like a whole new player out there,” said Dawkins. “I’m excited for him so that he can show everybody what they couldn’t see last year. He should be very good. I can’t wait.”
Last year over half of Dawkins’ shots were from the three-point line and he only took 23 free throws on the season.
“I’ve been focusing on all of my weaknesses like any body’s offseason,” said Dawkins. “It’s been going well. Been in the gym a lot getting stronger. Just being stronger with the ball, ball-handling and my decision making really. Just working on that and the only way to improve on that is to have the ball in your hand more and get used to that. Also doing a lot of individual work with ball-handling. I just want to be more of an all-around player.”
While he is working on his weaknesses, that does not mean Dawkins isn’t focusing on his stellar shooting ability.
“Still getting those shots up,” said Dawkins. “I don’t want to lose what I do well. You can work on your weaknesses and still know your strengths. Still working on the shot, keep it consistent. Not going to take it for granted.”
While the Michigan coaches are limited in their summer participation, Dawkins has the benefit of leaning on his father, Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins for advice.
“We all know what I need to work on,” noted Dawkins. “He just makes sure I do work on those things. Just giving me lessons, life lessons, anything about hard work and what it takes to be a great player. He knows I’m going to work on my weaknesses, so he just gives me the confidence to work on those. You have to experiment to figure out your game.”
With an improved Dawkins and the return of a full team there are high expectations in Ann Arbor after a 16-16 record last year.
“Win as many games as we can,” said Dawkins. There hasn’t been much discussed about the tournament. That’s the goal for every season. Just want to win every game. Get back to the Michigan Way.”