NAIA Player Spotlight: Dalen Dotson – William Carey University (MS)
If you know anything about William Carey University men’s basketball, then you know that Coach Steve Knight is one of the best coaches in the game. He’s a coach that isn’t afraid to go play a challenging schedule. Last season was no exception as they started the season off 2-4, while losing to a NCAA D1 team, and three NAIA Top 25 opponents. Then, in game seven of the season, Coach Knight and the crusaders wen’t across town to NCAA D1 Southern Mississippi, and got a big win! Part of that is that they were getting healthy. Including Sophomore Point Guard Dalen Dotson, who scored 8 points in the win.
Dalen, wasn’t shy to NCAA D1 basketball. He started his collegiate career at NCAA D1 North Carolina A&T State University. He ended up red shirting his first season there, and then broke his foot after playing in just three games as a freshman. It wasn’t the way Dalen thought his career was going to go. After the injury ended his season, Dalen decided to transfer to William Carey. He had a good relationship with Coach PJ and Coach Knight. They talked to him about the program’s rich winning tradition. William Carey pursued him hard and he wanted to play at a University where he was wanted.
For Dalen, Coach Knight and staff was just what he needed. He loves playing for them, and loves that William Carey is the most winning basketball program in Mississippi. He said that it’s an honor to represent such a prestigious program. He loves that Coach Knight does a great job of pushing the team and staying on them while also allowing enough freedom to play their games. Dalen said that Coach Knight is a great guy off the court, and he admires everything Coach does for William Carey and the community. Before coming to WCU, Dalen didn’t know what NAIA was all about and was shocked at how well the program was ran. He believes that William Carey is top of the line regardless of the level. Dalen also appreciates playing for Coach McCray, and Coach Burt, who he says do a great job of relating to the players on a personal level, while also pushing them in workouts and developing them as players.
Dalen’s season may have started off slow, as he still was recovering from injury, but once healthy he started in 27 of 35 games this past season. Dalen was a big part of their tournament run, and he said that one of his favorite moments as a student-athlete thus far was the overtime win in the Elite 8 game, and helping William Carey advance to the NAIA Fab Four for the first time in program history . For those who weren’t at the game, WCU found themselves down 18 at one point before fighting back and getting the win. After that Elite 8 game, Dalen remembers the time spent with his teammates reflecting on making history. Dalen loved the NAIA DI National Tournament, and said that every part of it both on the floor, and off was a great experience. He thinks that it’s the best tournament in the country and loves that every team plays in same venue.
Dalen gives credit to playing in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) for helping to prepare them for the NAIA National Tournament. He said that the SSAC has great competition from top to bottom. Four teams ended up making the NAIA National Tournament from the league, so it helped with the confidence going into Nationals.
Dalen is pumped to get back at it for this season. He has his eyes set towards winning a National Championship. The Crusaders will return nine players from last years National Semifinal team, and have a really nice recruiting class coming in. Dalen believes they have some unfinished business to handle, and is excited to continue what they started last season.
While Dalen’s main focus this season will be on his William Carey Crusaders, he also has two sibling making a name for themselves. Dalen’s little brother, Devon, is entering his Sophomore season for the Kansas Jayhakws, and little sister, Ashlynn, is a 2020 guard who will have an opportunity to play college basketball as well. Dalen, being a great big brother, said that he is proud of both of his siblings. He loves that he is able to play in his game and then turn around and watch either his brothers or sisters game. Dalen says that they all push each other and support one another which helps because he can talk to them about certain basketball situations, and he appreciates the fact that they all get to share knowledge together. I am sure that Dalen’s entire family is looking forward to basketball season. We know that Dalen and the William Carey Men’s Basketball team will be a force this season in NAIA DI, and wish his brother and sister the best of luck this season as well!