Timberline’s Donaven Dorsey hits new heights

Talented junior still growing – on and off court –and NCAA Division I schools are taking notice

mwochnick@theolympian.comDecember 14, 2012 

Donaven Dorsey is certain about one thing – he doesn’t plan to make a decision on where he’ll play in college any time soon. The Timberline High School junior has another agenda items he wants to tackle.

“I’m trying to get us (the Blazers) as far as we can,” he said. “We’re all together and trying to make it to state.”

It was the summer of 2011 when Dorsey first learned there was interest in him from major NCAA Division I basketball programs after he had a stellar season on the AAU circuit. Since then, the interest has increased. It’s likely that numerous college scouts and recruiters will be at every game he plays in this, his junior season; they already have attended his first three games.

So far, scholarship offers have come from Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Gonzaga and Portland State. Most recently, Arkansas of the Southeastern Conference started showing interest.

Dorsey said he has enjoyed the recruiting process, even though it gets crazy at times. And that means putting on his best performance every night, not easy for a humble high school player just three games into his junior season.

“I’d be lying if I said that (I didn’t feel the pressure),” Dorsey said. “I’m just trying to focus on the game and focus as much as possible.”

A wing player who stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 190 pounds, Dorsey is the key to Timberline’s up-tempo offense. He’s grown five inches since his freshman year, when he started on the junior varsity team before eventually moving up to varsity and into the Blazers’ regular rotation. And he might not be done growing yet, either. Doctors have told Dorsey he might reach 6-9.

“If he gets to be 6-9,” first-year Timberline coach Allen Thomas said, “watch out.”

A former point guard, his 6-6 frame means he has moved to the wing, although Thomas says Dorsey will see time in all five positions. As a sophomore, he averaged 19 points and six rebounds a game. His flashy style makes for an instant highlight reel — from his breakaway one-handed dunks to his dribble-drive and fade-away jumpers. Thomas said the versatile Dorsey will see playing time down low as a small forward but is still the team’s next best option at point guard behind Brandell Evans.

“He’s going to play everywhere,” said Thomas, a River Ridge High graduate who spent eight years on the Timberline coaching staff before becoming the head coach after the 2011-12 season.

Over the summer, Dorsey played on the Portland-based Inter City Players (ICP) travel team and was exposed at elite tournaments all across the nation. One aspect he picked up while playing against some of the best players in the country was learning to become more aggressive. That has translated well to his high school experience, knowing when to make a big play —whether that’s scoring or dishing to open teammates. He credits his teammates for pushing him more than he pushes himself.

“I do whatever I can to put our team in the best position to win,” Dorsey said. “Making a play doesn’t mean scoring every time. I love to pass. I love to get my teammates involved. I’d rather pass the ball then take the shot myself.”

That was evident Wednesday in Timberline’s 61-45 loss at Lincoln, the 3A Narrows League opener for both teams, when foul trouble kept Dorsey on the bench for most of the game. He finished with four points — all in the first quarter — but still found ways to create opportunities for teammates while he was on the floor.

Timberline (1-2) plays its first league home game tonight, when Foss, led by high-scoring forward Dezmyn Trent (35 points Wednesday in a win over Mount Tahoma) pays a visit to Lacey.

While Dorsey continues to adapt to his growing body, and the pressures of performing at a high level every night, one thing his coach and teammates can count on is his leadership.

“He’s been very level-headed,” Thomas said. “He wants to be a winner. That’s something he takes pride in and he wants to be. I don’t know if he’s the best player in the state, but I wouldn’t trade him for anyone.”

BOYS BASKETBALL PREVIEW CAPSULES

Outlooks and capsules for 4A and 3A Narrows League, 2A Evergreen Conference, 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division and Northwest Christian.

4A Narrows League

Crystal Ball

(2011-12 records in parentheses)

1. Olympia (20-6) 5. Stadium (3-17)

2. Bellarmine Prep (24-5)Gig Harbor (11-12)

3. South Kitsap (11-10)7. Yelm (3-17) *

4. Central Kitsap (14-9)

* — In Class 3A (Narrows)

STARTING five

GRiley Callaghan6-0jr.South Kitsap

Not the quickest guy, but always seems to stay one step ahead of defenders

GEric Anderson-Connolly6-3sr.Stadium

Heady point guard ran on same AAU team with Bellarmine Prep clan

FSefo Liufau6-4sr.Bellarmine Prep

Committed to Colorado for football, a tough competitor who will sometimes need to play “point” forward

FLucas Meikle6-8sr.Bellarmine Prep

Breakthrough junior year landed Meikle a scholarship to Gonzaga

FBrendan Leonard6-8sr.Olympia

Great hands in the post, but doesn’t hesitate to jump out and shoot from long range.

Fastbreaks: Olympia’s roster runs big. Four players — Brendan Leonard, Michael Champlin, Lewis Faller and Ben Bishop — are 6-foot-7 or taller. Few teams have had answers to the Bears’ size in the paint. Newcomer Louis Johnson, a sophomore, is averaging a team-best 13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game and senior point guard Michael Naipo is averaging 8.5 assists per game. The past three seasons, the 4A Narrows League MVP has been from Olympia (Alex Weber-Brader, 2009-10 and 2010-11; Dominick Francks, 2011-12). … Bellarmine Prep, the 4A state runner-up, has the talent to make another deep postseason run. Lucas Meikle is a prototypical power forward who can step out and shoot the 3-pointer. … Yelm, new to Class 4A, is young (just three seniors) and has a guard-heavy squad. Trey Friend and Dale Sullivan have led the Tornados in scoring.

3A Narrows League

Crystal Ball

1. Lincoln (18-8)5. Mount Tahoma (5-15) *

2. Foss (16-8)6. North Thurston (17-9) #

3. Timberline (7-12)7. Shelton (2-18) *

4. Wilson (20-4)

* — In Class 4A (Narrows); # — In Class 2A (Evergreen)

STARTING five

GAhmaad Rorie5-11jr.Lincoln

Clover Park transfer and Cal commit will help the Abes make a deep postseason run

GIvy Smith Jr.5-8so.Wilson

Next in a strong run of point guards; leader of seven underclassmen who will see regular playing time

G/FDonaven Dorsey6-6jr.Timberline

Growth spurt means multi-talented guard will see time at every position; has offers from multiple NCAA Division I schools, including UW, WSU and Gonzaga

FTre’Shaun Fletcher6-5sr.Lincoln

Signed to Colorado, Fletcher is a shooter and distributor from the wing; he’s reigning co-3A Narrows MVP

FDezmyn Trent6-4sr.Foss

Multi-talented wing with an ultra-competitive side, he can dominate in many ways.

Fastbreaks: The league welcomes three teams from two different classifications, and the Tacoma schools will have a big say in the playoff picture. Lincoln, Foss and Wilson have swept the playoff spots the past two seasons. With the addition of Ahmaad Rorie, a Clover Park transfer and Cal commit, the Abes are an overwhelming favorite to claim the 3A Narrows crown. … Timberline, led by first-year coach and River Ridge High School graduate Allen Thomas, has a lot of first-year varsity players, but returns two starters (Dorsey and Tyler Gartner). Dorsey, at 6-foot-6, has grown five inches since his freshman season and already has attracted multiple NCAA Division I offers. … North Thurston will be young and inexperienced with Tru Hicks being the lone returning starter from a team that shared the league crown with River Ridge a season ago. Sophomore guard Braden Rushton already is averaging a team-best 10.2 points per game. … Del Sandberg takes over at Shelton, and says his team is expected to be much improved with Colton Hubble and Dakota Andrews as the Highclimbers’ playmakers.

2A Evergreen Conference

Crystal Ball

1. River Ridge (15-9)5. Tumwater (11-12)

2. Capital (11-10) *6. Aberdeen (7-13)

3. W.F. West (13-9)7. Black Hills (10-11)

4. Centralia (6-13)

*— In Class 3A (Narrows)

STARTING 5

GBrad Wallace6-0sr.River Ridge

Reigning EvCo MVP (20.3 ppg last season) will carry the Hawks on his back

GDavid Cooper6-3so.Tumwater

Has the height of a post player, but speed and skills of a guard creates many matchup problems

GKeenan Williams6-2sr.Capital

Great long-range shooter who can also crash the boards; foes often put their best defender on him

GJared Eidenmuller5-10sr.Capital

Point guard fuels the offense and is relentless on defense; scored a season-high 29 in EvCo opener

WBrock Wade6-3sr.W.F. West

Three-time, first-team all-EvCo player had 46 points in a summer tournament game in Kelso

Fastbreaks: The strength of the 2A Evergreen Conference? Its guards. Four returning starters were all-league honorees a season ago. The league title runs through River Ridge, which has either shared or won the league crown outright every year since 2007. Former Evergreen coach and defensive guru John Barbee takes over a guard-heavy roster, led by Wallace, a four-year varsity player. Two Hawks have put up 30-plus point games (Wallace and Kesean Coleman, who had a career-high 32 in a 63-61 win over Decatur). … W.F. West will go as far as senior Brock Wade cam take the Bearcats. Wade, who has had a double-digit scoring average throughout high school, could finish as a four-time, first-team all-league player. … Capital enters the 2A Evergreen Conference under first-year coach Dave Mastin looking for its first postseason date since the 2009-10 season. Keenan Williams and Jared Eidenmuller (15.5 ppg in 2011-12) provide much of the Cougars’ offense. In a 69-49 loss to Olympia, Williams scored all of Capital’s first-quarter points on six 3-pointers. … Centralia is a team that could make a surprise run. The Tigers put up 104 points against R.A. Long, setting a school-record with 10 3-pointers from Maxx Waring. … Tumwater is getting into the groove of the season with many players joining late after the football team’s playoff run. Expect big scoring numbers from sophomore David Cooper and junior Josiah Warner. … Don’t sleep on Aberdeen under second-year coach Leonard Barnes. While the Bobcats have suffered five early season losses, once the second half of the season comes around, they could make a push for a playoff spot. … Jeff Gallagher takes over a youthful Black Hills team where the Wolves are getting big production from 6-foot-6 forward Jacob Burgess, who has put together 30- and 25-point games thus far.

1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division

Crystal Ball

1. Hoquiam (12-9)5. Rochester (3-15)

2. Forks (13-9)6. Elma (9-11)

3. Tenino (10-12)7. Rainier (6-14)

4. Montesano (12-8)

STARTING 5

GDevante Harris5-9sr.Tenino

Lightning-quick point guard is closing in on 1,000 career points

GRonnie Espedal5-10sr.Hoquiam

League defensive MVP in football has proven to be a lethal long-range shooter

WBraden Decker6-3sr.Forks

The Spartans will go as far as the reigning league MVP can take them

G/FTyler Gedney5-11jr.Rochester

Warriors’ top returning scorer (11 ppg) often plays bigger than his size

FCole Smith6-6sr.Hoquiam

Big target in the paint for the Grizzlies; also an all-league tight end

Fastbreaks: Hoquiam big? That’s a big understatement. Four players, led by Cole Smith at 6-foot-6, are 6-foot-3 or taller and this could be the Grizzlies’ year to get into the 1A state tournament. … Tenino has a wealth of varsity experience, which should help the Beavers in big-time games. Devante Harris is a four-year varsity player who has led the team in scoring the past two years. Seniors Ben Peterson and Justin Conklin got on a hot streak last season in the playoffs averaging 13.5 points and 11 points per game, respectively. … What Rochester lacks in full-time varsity starters, it makes up with overall experience. Tyler Gedney is coach Mark Goldrick’s only full-time starter returning for the Warriors, but Colton Smith and Aaron Blanchard played meaningful minutes in part-time starting roles. … It is a junior-by-committee for Elma with eight juniors on the roster — five of them starters. … It will be a rebuilding year for Rainier as Onalaska native Kyle Stanley takes over as head coach. The Mountaineers will rely heavily on their defense and junior guard Zach Froembling on the offensive end.

Class 2B

Northwest Christian Navigators

Coach: Rick Fox (fourth season)

2011-12: 14-10 overall, advanced to 2B District IV tournament

Key players: C Kenton Boogard, jr.; F Austin Koukal, sr.; G Aaron Fox, jr.; G Elijah Shoffner, sr.

Outlook: With all their inexperience, it could take time for the Navigators to heat up. Once they do, they could climb the ranks in the Pacific 2B League. Koukal, who averaged 6.5 points per game as a sophomore, already leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points and 5.0 rebounds a game.

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick mwochnick@theolympian.com

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