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Saugus' Jacob Dawe: Too big to fail

Saugus senior living up to his potential this season

Posted: January 28, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 28, 2013 1:55 a.m.
A vote of confidence played a key role in helping Saugus senior Jacob Dawe develop into one of the top defenders in the Foothill League this season. A vote of confidence played a key role in helping Saugus senior Jacob Dawe develop into one of the top defenders in the Foothill League this season.
A vote of confidence played a key role in helping Saugus senior Jacob Dawe develop into one of the top defenders in the Foothill League this season.

The coaching staff at Saugus just kept waiting for it to happen.

There he was, well over 6 feet tall by the time was a freshman in high school. He came from an athletic and supportive family. He was a hard worker, had good grades, the whole kit and caboodle.

Saugus senior Jacob Dawe had the perfect makeup of a good basketball player all along, and his coaches knew it was only a matter of time before he proved them right.

“I knew it was going to pay off eventually,” Dawe says of working his way up the ranks of the Saugus program. “I knew with everything, even if it’s not immediate payoff, it’s going to be a bigger payoff in the end.”

Now standing at 6-foot-7 and regularly starting as a forward/center on varsity for the first time, Dawe has flourished into a shutdown defender and an inside scoring threat on offense.

His sudden ascension as a player came at a perfect time for Saugus, which was in dire need of a dominant big man coming into the season after the graduation of starting forwards Matt Coleman and Mitch Davis.

Though Dawe played varsity last year after stints on the freshman and JV teams the two years before, he rarely made it on the court.

He finished with just 20 points as junior after playing in 17 of Saugus’ 27 games. But toward the end of the season, something started to click.

“The last 11 months, he’s just completely changed as a person,” says Saugus head coach Derek Ballard.

After a year of battling in the post with teammates in practice, Dawe began to battle back.

He started to learn how to stand his ground against two of the more aggressive post players in Coleman and Davis.

Beyond that, Dawe attributed a big portion of his success to a simple vote of confidence he received from Ballard and the rest of the coaching staff.

Knowing they would need a replacement big man, the coaches approached Dawe said, “‘We need you to step up. We need you to be the center of the team,’” Dawe recalls.

Those few, simple words changed his outlook as a player.

Dawe went in the offseason and went to work. He lifted weights and improved his footwork and agility. Slowly but surely, he started to believe in himself as a dominant defender.

“I’ll admit I wasn’t the greatest basketball player for the past few years,” Dawe says. “I was always big, but I never really played big. I never really used my size to affect my game and this year I’ve finally been able to do that.”

The numbers support that. He’s averaging nearly two blocks per game this season — more than his average in points last season — and he’s pulling down 7.7 rebounds per contest.

Both of those numbers fail to do his play justice, Ballard says.

“What he does is not recorded in stats because he changes a lot of shots,” Ballard says. “When guys drive in there, his range, he gets his hands in there.”

An improved offensive game has also helped Dawe score roughly seven points per game so far this season.

Since the start of Foothill League play at the beginning of the month, he’s stepped his play up a level.

His best performance may have been on a Jan. 15 loss to West Ranch.

Dawe was assigned to defend 6-foot-7 power forward Ako Kaluna, who is one of the top scorers and most difficult-to-defend players in league.

Kaluna was limited to 12 points in the game, eight of which came in the final minutes when West Ranch was well ahead and the game was out of hand.

“I loved playing defense that game against West Ranch,” Dawe says. “That was probably one of my favorite games to play. I just love being matched up against the better players.”

And if that doesn’t say enough about how much better he’s gotten from one season to the next, maybe the fact that he’s received two offers to play college ball will.

Dawe said he could play at California Lutheran or Willamette University in Oregon, but will wait to make a decision.

As for the Saugus coaches hoping for his potential to turn into reality?

It seems the wait is over.


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