Central Florida wing Aubrey Dawkins had the game of his life against top-overall seed Duke in the NCAA Tournament second round last week. He racked up 32 points to match Zion Williamson and saw a last-second tip roll around the rim to seal a 77-76 defeat.
The CBS cameras caught his teammates consoling him in the ensuing moments after the near buzzer-beater. In the hours afterward, someone else called: John Beilein.
“I texted Aubrey, Tracy (his mother) and Johnny (his dad) right after the game and they’ve all gotten back to me,” Beilein said at Wednesday’s media availability for tomorrow’s Sweet 16 matchup versus Texas Tech. “Really everyone, there is a lot of gratitude both ways and happiness both ways.”
Dawkins played at Michigan from 2014-16, scoring 6.7 points per game and connecting on nearly 44 percent of his 3-pointers. He transferred to Orlando during the summer of 2016 to play for his dad, the Knights head coach.
“Johnny and I have been friends for a while,” Beilein said. “We were both on the same NCAA Ethics Coalition…one of the first members.”
When Beilein needed to replace a slew of NBA players in Mitch McGary, Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III in 2014, he called Dawkins to bring Aubrey to Ann Arbor. He was a 3-star recruit at the time with offers from Dayton and College of Charleston among others.
“(Aubrey) had a terrific first few years of development,” Beilein said, “and he had 30 points one time in a game as a freshman (versus Rutgers). He just didn’t miss.”
Beilein also made a point to say that injuries held Dawkins back from reaching his true pro potential, which was shown in full force against the Blue Devils last weekend.
“His injuries have set him back,” he said. “His game has developed and he’s a high-wire act like his daddy (former Naismith Player of the Year in 1986) and it’s great to see.”
Aubrey Dawkins NBA Draft Prospects
According to our own Jonathan Adams, Dawkins earned an NBA look with the outburst versus Duke, though he cautioned that he may should return for another year to build off last weekend’s momentum.
“The UCF wing player’s length and shooting ability have some elements of a potential three-and-D player at the next level,” Adams wrote.
He’s not alone in this assessment, as Jonathan Rothstein tweeted during a February win over Cincinnati.
“Aubrey Dawkins is a legitimate NBA prospect,” Rothstein tweeted. “Tremendous size for a wing at 6-6. Can defend and make shots with regularity. Was sensational tonight against Cincinnati.”
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie is less optimistic.
“Aubrey Dawkins is a junior who turns 24 in May. He’s fine, and he shoots it well on the move. But not at an NBA level, which is basically what he needs to be right now,” Vecenie tweeted. “UCF junior Aubrey Dawkins is four months older than Aaron Gordon, who has gone through an entire rookie scale contract and is in the first year of his second NBA deal.”
According to Aran Smith at NBA Draft, Dawkins won’t go in either round of this summer’s draft. With that said, Dawkins put himself on the map last weekend. If he’s a 20-point per game scorer next year for UCF, he’ll climb up draft boards.
That would place him in the same company as the various diamond-in-the-rough prospects that Beilein has pumped into the pros during his Michigan tenure.