LACEY — Long before Donaven Dorsey became a prized basketball talent at Timberline High School, he might have had a bright future in football.
As a quarterback in middle school, he led the Black Hills Junior Football League in passing yards. His top receiver was Brandell Evans, now the Blazers’ starting point guard.
“It was pretty fun,” Dorsey reflected. “Still have some highlight tapes.”
To the disappointment of Blazers football coach Nick Mullen, Dorsey never suited up in high school, and eventually narrowed his focus to basketball, a sport that “came more naturally to me,” he said.
Now, Dorsey will concentrate on his next basketball chapter. After graduating in June, The Olympian’s All-Area boys Player of the Year heads to the University of Washington to begin summer classes in preparation for his freshman season with the Huskies.
Dorsey is projected as a shooting guard, and has a chance to make an immediate impact as a freshman with the departure of senior C.J. Wilcox. Dorsey is one of two signees for the Huskies’ 2014 recruiting class, joining 6-foot-10 forward Tristan Etienne out of British Columbia.
Dorsey was a dominant player for the Blazers; he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game to earn 3A Narrows League MVP honors. He has the school record for points in a game (44), and ranks in the top five in career scoring.
But his impact on a game stretches beyond points. He’s a team-first guy, a factor that drew Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar to the 6-7 guard, Blazers coach Allen Thomas said.
“He can take over a game without scoring,” Thomas said. “He has abilities to make other people better along with his ability to make a spectacular play when needed, but that doesn’t define who he is as a player.”
In his senior year, Dorsey learned how to deal with adversity – he missed five games because of an ankle injury that he called the most severe of his young career. Fearing a broken ankle after a 65-38 loss to Lincoln on Jan. 17, a later diagnosis revealed a high-ankle sprain.
While he was out, Dorsey did what he could to support his teammates by becoming a player-coach on the bench, earning praise from Thomas for his insight. The Blazers also made his nearly three-week recovery easier to endure by winning three of five games.
“It was hard,” Dorsey said. “You live and die with your teammates and you go to war with them every game, but you have to have faith.”
Timberline fell one game short of making the Class 3A state tournament for a second straight year, which would have been the first time the program had back-to-back appearances since the 1980-81 teams played for state titles.
Thomas coached Dorsey for four years— starting as a JV player his freshman season and on the varsity squad after Thomas took the head coaching job before the 2012-13 season.
Thomas knows how high Dorsey’s potential can be, calling him “a perfectionist on and off the court.” Dorsey is the first player from Thurston County to sign with a Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball program since Capital’s Michael Fey (2001).
I think we’re starting to see how good this guy can really be,” Thomas said. “He’s one of those guys that the bigger the challenge, he seems to rise to the occasion.”
The Olympian’s all-area BOYS basketball team
POS.NAMEHT. YEARHIGH SCHOOL
G/W Donaven Dorsey6-7sr.Timberline
Once-in-a-generation player becomes Thurston County’s first Pac-12 Conference-bound athlete since Capital’s Michael Fey (UCLA) in 2001. Despite missing five games with an ankle injury, the 3A Narrows League MVP and Olympian All-Area Player of the Year led the Blazers to the 3A regional and leaves the school ranked in the top five in career scoring.
G Elijah Fuller6-1sr.Yelm
Led a fast-paced Tornados offense that put up 67.6 points a game. The 4A Narrows League’s leading scorer at 19.5 points a game helped Yelm reach double-digit victories for the first time in a decade.
The 1A SWW Evergreen MVP did what was asked – and more. His passing, rebounding and scoring propelled the Mountaineers to the district tournament. Averaged 16 points, six rebounds and 3.5 assists a game.
Blazers’ floor general, with averages of 13 points, six assists and two steals a game, was clutch in key situations all year and kept the team in the playoff hunt while Dorsey was out for five games.
The 2A EvCo MVP’s size and athleticism made for a mismatch most nights along the perimeter. Shot 46 percent from the field on his way to averaging 17.5 points and five rebounds a game.
Coach of the year: Jordan Barnes, Yelm
With 11 victories – one game shy of the district playoffs – Barnes guided Yelm to its best season since 2003.
T.J. Mickelson, fr., Black Hills; Mitch Fettig, sr., Olympia; Josiah Warner, sr., Tumwater; Jason Kananin, jr., River Ridge; Tanner Gueller, sr., W.F. WestMeg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org @MegWochnick theolympian.com/southsoundsports email@example.com