After a two-year run at the University of Michigan where he was permanently designated to a role in the team’s 2nd unit, Aubrey Dawkins decided to leave the school on April 6th, 2016 to transfer to the University of Central Florida (UCF). That move came just two weeks after that university hired his father, Johnny Dawkins, to be the team’s next head coach. Due to the transfer rules of the NCAA, he would have to wait a year before he’d be able to play for his father as a member of the UCF Knights.
Unfortunately, that plan wouldn’t be able to come to fruition as the wing suffered a shoulder injury that would sideline him for the entire 2017-18 campaign. This unfortunate predicament meant that UCF fans would have to wait two years before they had a chance to watch him play with his father and also try to push the team to success.
Fortunately for those fans, Dawkins was able to make his long-awaited return during the subsequent 2018-19 season. Not only was he able to excite the masses by returning after a two year absence, the young wing was immediately able to stand out as one of the best prospects in the American Athletic Conference.
That claim was evident from basic statistics as 15.6 points, 5 rebounds and 1.4 assists on 46% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts per game. While that solid percentage didn’t match his excellent shooting at Michigan, where he hit 44% on three-point looks during his sophomore season, he still shot good enough to finish third in the AAC in three-point percentage among guys that shot at least two 3’s per game. Dawkins standing as a fantastic perimeter shooter allowed him to be an efficient all-around scorer as he maintained a 60% True Shooting Percentage.
His status as a fantastic perimeter threat simply came through mastering the art of catch-and-shoot, whether that was waiting at his spot on the perimeter or working around screens. In either area, he’s able to put up a jumper just milliseconds after capturing the pass from one of his teammates. While his jumper itself is a little unconventional, as his body leans back while putting up the shot, the stroke itself is quick and has a high release point.
In addition to excelling in that area, his shooting stroke also allowed him to shine as a pull-up threat. From beyond the arc, he occasionally was able to show off that trait as he used fakes or step-backs to create separation from his opponent.
As is the case for most players, this trait is mostly seen from him working inside the three-point line as the UCF alum stands as a solid mid-range shooter. While Dawkins has virtually perfected the art of the catch-and-shoot, pull-ups seem like his favorite thing to do on the offensive end. That idea comes from witnessing the energy that he puts into his moves to create separation, whether it’s a slick spin or stupendous step-back. Both of those traits are seen below as he uses moves that most people could typically pull off in 2k to create separation from his opponent before hitting the mid-range jumper.
Besides being solid from beyond the arc and as a mid-range threat, the UCF alum’s offensive arsenal starts to lose its luster. That shouldn’t be taken entirely negative as he does show flashes in a few areas. For one, Dawkins has good instincts about the right moments to make off-ball cuts. That knack combined with good acceleration and solid bounce made him a pretty reliable target for facilitators.
Despite only averaging 1.4 assists per game as a junior, he was able to show flashes of a player that can potentially be a reliable facilitator. A lot of that is due to him being an unselfish player that can quickly recognize open teammates. Dawkins is able to do that whether he’s resigned to the perimeter or moving his way to the rim. That second trait is seen in the clip below as he throws a precise pass to a teammate while on the move despite being heavily pressured.
After spending two years away from the game due to the NCAA transfer rules and a season-ending injury, Dawkins ended his junior season on the verge of turning 24 years old. That predicament alongside his great play during his lone season at UCF pushed the to both enter his name and stay in the NBA Draft. While he didn’t hear his name called during the June 20th event, the prospect didn’t have to wait long to make his NBA dreams come true as he agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the New Orleans Pelicans on the following day.
With Dawkins under an Exhibit 10 deal, the Pelicans could decide between now and the start of the NBA season to transfer his contract over to a standard two-way contract. However, that currently doesn’t seem likely as the team have their two-way slots filled up with rookie forward Zylan Cheatham and veteran guard Josh Gray. Despite the likelihood that he won’t receive a two-way, this Exhibit 10 will be financially beneficial for the UCF alum. That comes with the bonus which would range between $5,000 to $50,000 if he goes to the G League to play with the Erie Bayhawks for up to 60 days.
From the moment he first puts on a Bayhawks, Dawkins honestly could have a chance to be one of the best young wings in the G League. That optimism has a lot to do with his fantastic jumper where he’s mastered the art as a catch-and-shoot and pull-up shooter, which have allowed him to be a threat from both inside and outside the three-point line. In addition to that trait, he’ll have a chance to progress as a facilitator due to working alongside solid offensive players like Gray and Cheatham.
So while the young guard may have hit a few more road bumps than the average rookie, Aubrey Dawkins still stands out as a very solid offensive player and somebody to keep your eyes on when the G League season starts in November.