Shootin’ the ‘Breeze’ with Brandon Dawson

Brandon Dawson is a devout Christian who has played basketball collegiately at the D-1 level at Kennesaw State University. Breeze, as he is known as by friends and family, is a 23-year-old from Atlanta, GA. Brandon is a very humble young man and says that “The only reason I’ve gotten to where I am today is because of God and the family that he has blessed me with. It’s not because of my abilities; it’s been all of him and none of me.”

Brandon comes from a long line of successful family members. The close knit Dawson family is caring and loving but also knows when to push each other to get the best out of one another. He has two brothers; Nick who is 25 and Josh who is 21. Nick is a recording artist who is starting to make a name for himself in the Atlanta area and has brushed shoulders with some of the top labels in the industry. Josh currently plays defensive end at the University of Georgia and will be entering his senior season. The two brothers have played a big role in Brandon’s development as a person. “Both of my brothers have inspired me tremendously throughout the years. We all inspire each other, that’s what family does.”

At the age of four was when Brandon started to develop a love for the game of basketball and he has his father to thank. “He played in this men’s league when we were kids. He would take us to his games and I just remember watching him play, and him letting me hold the basketballs on the ride home.” The unique sights and senses of a cozy gym, which may be overlooked by those who haven’t played the game growing up, drew Brandon in. “I loved the way the ball felt in my hands, and the smell of a gym.”

After playing basketball for years, it was in the 8th grade against Redan Middle School when Dawson first realized he may be a step above his peers and have a chance at playing in college. “I had 19 points in the first half. From then on I never doubted it. For me, basketball was never about “making it” I knew I would make it. I just wanted to keep having fun with it.” Brandon’s ability to separate the pressures of playing basketball and the importance of having fun was soon tested in high school. He went to Tucker High School in DeKalb County which has to this day, been recognized as a perennial power in the state of Georgia. As a freshman Dawson suited up for the Tigers and watched as Tucker brought home its second state championship in school history. Though Dawson was not an integral part to the team’s success as he was called up from JV to join the bench for the run to state, he managed to see how Tucker greats such as MarShon Brooks and Manny Atkins carried themselves and learned from them.

Asked about what it was like playing for a prestigious program and playing with great players, Brandon said, “It was hard, but a lot of fun. We had coaches that held us to a higher standard, and demanded nothing but excellence from us. Coach [James] Hartry always told us to have fun and leave everything out there because playing basketball isn’t a right; it’s a privilege that can be taken away from you in an instant. Winning is hard, I was so fortunate to be a part of a team that won a state championship.”

Once Dawson’s recruiting picked up steam after a successful junior season, Brandon knew it was time to make a decision and ultimately decided to become a Kennesaw State Owl. “I prayed one night about it. I wanted to be signed before I started my senior season because I wanted to play my senior year and be free, not having to worry about where I was going to school. So I asked God to send me a sign one night, 15 minutes later I heard an owl outside of my window, and I knew then. So I called Coach Ingle the next day, set up my visit and became an owl.” Brandon would play three years at Kennesaw before transferring to pursue other things in life. After a one year hiatus, he would return back to continue studying at KSU. Now a senior, Dawson is studying Sport Management with the hopes of either becoming a sports agent or a coach. He has helped coach within the Tucker basketball program this season and already is beginning to give back to the community that helped shape him.

He says that he is still pursuing a basketball career but just for the short term as he has many other interests in his life such as cartoons and cars. Many would not guess it at first sight due to his tenacity on the hardwood, but ‘Breeze’ is a gentle man standing at 6-foot-5.  He is very intellectual and loves to follow God and Jesus’s teachings. He is passionate about cars and considers himself a “cartoon connoisseur”. Brandon loves Dragon Ball Z and also classic cartoons such as Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry.

Becoming a well-rounded individual has taken some help and guidance along the way. “I can’t say it enough, I am truly blessed to have a family like the one I have. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. We don’t always see eye to eye, but at the end of the day it’s all love, and I know they’re always behind me 100%, and there’s no doubt about that” When asked about his strong bond with God, Brandon stated, “I can say this without any doubt, and I want to make sure that this is clear and understood, there is nothing that can happen in the world to shake my faith. I read the bible and I have a strong relationship with God. 365 times in the bible it says “do not fear.” So even when a situation has seemed bleak, I have always kept my faith in The Lord. And I can honestly say I’ve never been in a position where I didn’t come out winning because of this undeniable faith.”

Knowing Brandon for over two years now personally, I can truthfully say that he is one of the nicest people I have met in my time at Kennesaw. He cares about everyone he comes in touch with and wants the best for all his peers. I have no doubt in my mind that the man known as ‘Breeze’ will continue to be a role model for those around him and will continue to walk hand-in-hand with the Lord on his path to a long and successful life.

Top Five Performances from Macon

The March to Macon concluded this past weekend but left us with some memorable performances. Here is how I would rank the top five individual efforts from championship weekend.

BOYS

  1. Jordan Harris – Seminole County – 41 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals

This was an easy one. The junior who has committed to play college ball at UGA was electrifying. Harris soared above all others for thunderous dunks and spectacular rebounds. He didn’t just dominate the game with his athleticism like most top high schoolers do, he also showed that he has a lethal jumper. Harris splashed in four 3-pointers to help the Indians bring home their first state title since 1998 over Crawford County and its raucous fan base, 76-71.

  1. Derek Ogbeide – Pebblebrook – 14 points, 22 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks

Another player heading to UGA stole the show in his respective game. Though the Falcons lost on a controversial call on which Ogbeide was whistled on, the big man thoroughly dominated the interior. Wheeler had no answer inside as Ogbeide cleaned up the boards and did not allow anything easy inside for the Wildcats. The big fella got the majority of his points off putbacks. Imagine if the Falcons fed him the ball in the post.

  1. Kobi Simmons – St. Francis – 27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists

Simmons showed why he is ranked a five-star prospect heading into his senior season. The junior flew in for dunks and slashed into the lane and made life nightmarish for the Greenforest Eagles. Simmons lived at the line and connected, going 13-15. The Knights captured their second straight state title in convincing fashion, 96-81.

  1. Malik Beasley – St. Francis – 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists

It’s tough to beat a team when they have two of the best players in the state. The Florida State-signee teamed up with Simmons and Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates to pour in 73 points combined. As Kobi Simmons did, Beasley lived at the line going 13-14. He nearly brought the house down as he just missed a dunk over 7-foot-1 Ikey Obiagu.

  1. Montae Glenn – Carrollton – 22 points, 11 rebounds, 8-12 FG

The final spot is a tough one, but I have to give it to the old school back-to-the-basket big man Montae Glenn. True big men are a dying breed as the majority of young players would rather fly through the air or drain threes. The Georgia Souther-signee displayed great footwork in the low post as he punished the smaller Jonesboro Cardinals. He showed he could score with either hand, and also showed that he can rock the old school goggles. The Trojans fell 55-50, but Glenn did all he could to keep them in the game.

GIRLS

  1. Aliyah Collier – Laney – 24 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks

A no-brainer here as Collier absolutely dominated in every facet of the game. Laney won its first ever state title while Collier slashed through the lane and picked up 20 free throw attempts of which she cashed in 16. The Wildcats defeated Beach 70-55.  No Bulldog was able to match Collier’s activeness as she impacted the game on both sides of the ball.

  1. Te’a Cooper – McEachern – 26 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists

The Tennessee-signee helped McEachern capture its second straight state title in overtime, 58-51. Cooper’s big game put a nice bow and ribbon on her successful high school career. She made play after play with the ball in her hands and made some sweet passes along with dazzle defenders with her ball handling skills.

  1. Mylashia Yancey – Turner County – 28 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals

Yancey kicked off championship weekend with a stellar performance in a loss to undefeated Taylor County. She kept the Lady Rebels in the game and helped lead a furious comeback to make things interesting in the second half. Yancey was trouble for the Vikings once she got into the lane, and attacked the rim to get Taylor County players in foul trouble. She also showed off a nice mid-range game in her all around strong performance.

  1. Maya Dodson – St. Francis – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists

The sophomore had the biggest sequence all weekend to give her team a state crown. As Southwest Atlanta Christian was holding for a last shot, Dodson jumped in front of an errant pass for a steal. She dished it ahead to a teammate who lost the ball right before she could attempt a layup, but Dodson was there to clean up the loose ball and laid it in at the buzzer to stun SACA. Dodson’s length caused problems for the Warriors as she had the ability to guard multiple positions and also used her height to battle inside and score tough baskets.

  1. Jacqueline Anderson – Beach – 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals

Anderson proved she was a bulldog of a guard in the Bulldogs’ loss to Laney. She came in averaging over 15 points per game and did not disappoint. Anderson handled the ball smoothly and cashed in four 3-pointers. The Wildcats had to cool down Anderson and teammate Ilyn Spann in order to win state for legendary head coach Otis Smart.

What I Learned in Macon…

What a weekend! The March to Macon was everything that I had hoped. Nine out of the 14 games were decided by single digits and every game was up for grabs in the fourth quarter except for one. We saw some nail-biting finishes, questionable calls, and all-out passion. Sitting courtside for the first time, I was able to see in person some of the best players not only in the state but the entire nation.

I witnessed D-1 players steal the show with Jordan Harris, Malik Beasley, Kobi Simmons, Derek Ogbeide, James Walker, and Tookie Brown all carry their teams with their scoring. I also saw some unsung heroes come up big with DaJohn Williams and Eric Johnson giving their teams state championships.

So what did we learn this week? Let’s take it class by class. In Class A-Public, Calhoun County held off a late rally from the Patriots. I learned that: Seniors find ways to make plays in the clutch. Quenten Taylor was the star of the game until he picked up his fourth with 4:26 remaining in the third. He came back in the fourth and scored one more bucket to give him 20 on the night. Both he and Sherrod Williams finished with 20 points to lead the way for the Cougars but it was senior DaJohn Williams’ 18th point of the night that would give Calhoun County the crown.

St. Francis battled with Greenforest in Class A-Private and came away with a 96-81 victory for its second straight title. I learned that: Stars shine brightest on the biggest stage. Greenforest had more size and had strong guard play, but FSU-signee Malik Beasley, Xavier-signee Kaiser Gates, and five-star junior Kobi Simmons were too much as they combined for 73 points. The St. Francis girls edged South Atlanta Christian 47-45 after SACA turned the ball over on its final possession and Maya Dodson converted at the buzzer to knock off the team that ended the Lady Knights’ season a year ago.

Class AA saw the Wesleyan Wolves capture their 11 state title and their seventh in eight years. The boys game featured Crawford County and its raucous fan base against Seminole County. I learned that: Jordan Harris is the best player in the state of Georgia. The junior exploded for 41 points after draining three after three and cramming dunk after dunk. Mark Fox got a steal in this kid who will only continue to improve.

Morgan County fell to Jenkins 62-60 in the Class AAA final after Eric Johnson broke Bulldog fans’ hearts with a layup with 3.6 seconds remaining. I learned that: Morgan County can pack a gym out. Just over an hour away, the Bulldog fans filled the gym to the rafters to see Tookie Brown’s final game. It was a standing room only crowd and they were treated to possibly the best game of the weekend, even though their team didn’t come out on top. Aliyah Collier was a superstar in Laney’s win over Beach recording 24 points and 19 rebounds.

Carrollton was denied a sweep of the state titles in AAAA and came away empty handed after the Trojans could not feed Montae Glenn in the second half and after the Lady Trojans couldn’t find a bucket in the fourth quarter. I learned that: Jonesboro has the best defense in the state bar none. The Cardinals flew around the court and locked down the bigger Glenn in the second half.

Stephenson grabbed the title after beating Mays in the AAAAA girls final. I learned that: It is hard to beat a team three times. Davion Wingate and Miracle Gray refused to let the Jags drop another one to the Raiders. Brunswick’s size overwhelmed Allatoona in the boys championship and won going away, 49-32.

In overtime, McEachern and Te’a Cooper defeated Norcross 58-51. Wheeler beat Pebblebrook by one in the AAAAAA boys game. I learned that: Stars get calls and free throws win championships. Jared Harper split a pair for Pebblebrook and gave them just a one point lead instead of two. Jaylen Brown subsequently got fouled on the other end and iced it with two from the line.