Al-Amir Dawes: Newark’s Finest Makes Division I Schools Pay Attention

Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography

By David Cordova

Many times, there are underrated players that may or may not get the recognition they deserve. But at the end of the day, they may or may not care about recognition, as long as they get the job done.

Such is the case when you’re thinking of Al-Amir Dawes. He is the type of players that lets the game to him, and is also the type of player that comes in with little fanfare, but lets his game speak for itself.

Dawes is a 6-foot-1 senior point guard who has a good court vision and a good feel for the game. ESPN has him rated as the No. 95 player in the Class of 2019, but that doesn’t define his level of play. But at the end of the day, he plays better than his ranking.

“I kind of had the ball in my hands since I was three years old,” said Dawes, “so it was second nature for me to play this sport or whatever, the love I’ve got for it is unexplainable.”

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Dawes shoots from the corner in preparation for a game against the Ranney School. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography).

Dawes hails from the city of Newark, New Jersey, a place where only the gritty and the strong survive and where the game of basketball is highly-regarded. When asked about being from the place which is also known as Brick City, he replied, “It’s the trenches. Everybody don’t make it out of there or whatever, so it was a blessing for me to have this talent, to playasketball and to be the one make it out. It’s kind of tough living there, you know, [but] if you’ve got a goal and you’re good at it, just do it.”

On the subject of the basketball culture in Newark and in the state of New Jersey as a whole, Dawes added: “You know, basketball in Newark is tough, it’s gritty, there’s people that’s trying to hurt you or whatever. You know, people that’s trying to prove that they’re the best ones, and Jersey itself, it’s like, it’s talent, so it’s professional stuff that you’ve gotta work at, so I can say that both of them are different.”

Every summer since his middle school days, Dawes has played for the Playaz Basketball Club, an AAU program based out of Paterson, New Jersey, which is also one of the most elite programs in the Northeast. This spring and summer on the Nike EYBL circuit, he averaged 15.5 points, four assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

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When Dawes steps on the court, his mission is to dominate on the court. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

“I had a lot of fun, I’ve been there since eighth grade,” said Dawes about his time with the Playaz. “You know, to see players come in and out of it, it was a blessing to play for that team. I had fun playing for that team, and you know, Playaz 4 Life.”\

On his EYBL season, he added: “It was tough, we started out 0-4 [in the first session in Dallas, Texas], but the rest of it, we did well, and I had a lot of fun.”

Dawes plays high school ball at The Patrick School, in Hillside, New Jersey, which is one of the most storied programs in the Garden State. Since its inception in 2011, after the original St. Patrick High School closed, the Patrick School, as it was renamed has produced countless Division I players and also NBA players such as De’Andre Bembry (Atlanta Hawks) and Angel Delgado (Los Angeles Clippers).

When asked about his time at the powerhouse program, Dawes replied, “My time has been very overcoming. My freshman year, I was playing behind a lot of guards, like Bryce Aiken and Jordan Walker, or whatever. So you know, all I had to do was trust the process, you know, just wait on my turn, I knew it was gonna come to me. Here I am now, in my senior year.”

With the Celtics, he has learned under the tutelage of head coach Chris Chavannes, who is also an administrator at the school. The coach’s discipline has also helped shape Dawes into a mature player. “He just wants the best out of you,” said Dawes of Chavannes, “Every time you step into the gym with him, you’ve got to bring it every time. You know, playing with him, you’ve got to be on top of your game every single moment, every single minute, you know, you just gotta play hard for him.”

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Dawes is focused on the layup line, preparing for whatever awaits him in the game. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

As a sophomore, Dawes averaged 6.7 points on a loaded Celtics squad that featured Walker (Tulane University), center Nick Richards (University of Kentucky) and point guard Jamir Harris (American University), which finished 28-4 and won the New Jersey Tournament of Champions, followed by a No. 14 ranking in the USA Today national poll.

When asked what it was like being a part of that championship team, Dawes added: “It was kind of easy walking for me, because I had Nick Richards, Jordan Walker, Valdir Manuel, Marcus McClary, Jamir Harris. You know, playing with them guys, all I had to do was score the ball, really. And it was enough to bring to the team, so it was easy walking.”

And on learning from Walker and Harris, whom were both seniors on the team, “All I learned from them was to be a leader, ’cause you know, I had to take time to learn as a person, and be a leader on and off the court.”

The following season, as a junior, Dawes increased his numbers to 11.8 points per game for the Celtics, who struggled through a disappointing 14-11 season, in which they lost in the first round of the sectional playoffs.

“I did okay, I had a lot of injuries or whatever,” said Dawes about last season, “So you know, I didn’t really play as well, but aside from that, I did good.”

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One good thing about Dawes is that when he hits the gym, he’s always ready to work. (Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography)

In regards to his recruitment, Dawes has been offered by 15 schools such as Clemson, TCU, St. John’s, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Minnesota, DePaul, Florida, St. Bonaventure, Maryland, UCF, Wichita State, LaSalle and St. Joseph’s.

Now that his senior year is here, his mission is this: “Right now that AAU is done, I’m just trying to win now, it all comes down to winning, getting another TOC before I leave for college. That’s the main goal, winning the TOC,” said Dawes.

And what’s next in the future for him? “Like I said before, TOC, that’s the next thing that’s about to happen. TOC, [and] then as soon as I grab that, y’all are going to hear where I’m going to college.”

Next year, the college basketball world will get to know Al-Amir Dawes, but for right now, New Jersey will get to witness his last season before he makes that decision. And come December, he will be ready to showcase his talents on the court.

Highlights of Al-Amir Dawes:

Courtesy of Courtside Films.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

Courtesy of Elite Mixtapes.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

Courtesy of Courtside Films.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

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