To the untrained eye, James Dews is your typical college sophomore. He studies in the Richter Library, eats at Chartwells and has a Facebook. But what many do not realize is that Dews is a rising star on the surging University of Miami men’s basketball team.
Rewind to 2005-06 when Dews completed a stellar high school basketball career at Lakota East High in the Cincinnati area. He was the school’s all-time leading scorer. In recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments, the Lakota East Athletic Department commemorated Dews’ efforts by retiring his number 23. It was a very emotional night for the humble Dews.
“It was really good. I had my family, cousins and coach [Jorge] Fernandez there,” Dews said. “It was senior night and I wasn’t expecting it. It was a great night.”
As one of scout.com’s top 100 recruits, Dews faced the difficult task of choosing among attractive scholarship offers from many top-tier schools, including Michigan, West Virginia, Seton Hall and Tennessee. For Dews, the decision came down to the people.
“I chose Miami because of the family atmosphere,” he said. “I came down here and fell in love with all of the guys and coaches. I love how they treat you.”
After starting every game throughout his four years in high school, Dews had to get accustomed to coming off the bench. Despite 31 appearances last year, he never started.
“In the beginning, it was kind of weird,” Dews said describing the transition. “But I kind of got used to it. I tried to make something happen every time I stepped up on the floor. I worked hard. Just like high school, I kept putting in work and hopefully my time would come.”
Dews, following the example of junior Brian Asbury, consistently stayed after practice last year and worked extensively over the summer on his jump shot and overall game.
“I was on the bench so I knew if I stayed in the gym and got stronger my time would come,” Dews said. “Over the summer I talked to Coach [Frank] Haith and all of my coaches and they expected me to make the jump like Brian did. So that got me motivated so I just kept working hard.”
With a determined attitude, Dews approached this season with great anticipation and hope. Recognizing Dews’ talent, focus and resolve, Coach Haith named Dews a starter for the second game of the season, and he has started every game since. The confidence Haith shows in Dews is reciprocated.
“When I first met Coach Haith on my visit, [I knew] that was one of the main reasons why I came here. He brings you into his family,” Dews said. “Coach Haith is.more than just a coach, but he is a father figure to me. You can talk to him about everything.”
Dews, who majors in education, has been inspired by his sister, who is a sixth grade teacher. He brings his passion to the court and is not afraid to guide his teammates or let them guide him.
“We all give each other advice. If they feel like I am doing something wrong they give me advice. I am confident and we’re all confident and able to critique each other.”
With his and the team’s newfound success, Dews said anything seems possible.
“The sky is the limit. [If] we just keep playing the way we are playing as a team, with a chip on our shoulder, then anything is possible.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.