Storm's Lawson no longer flying under radar
Daniel Lawson did not need Davidson County Community College to recruit him. He recruited them.
Storm basketball coach Matt Ridge is mighty glad he did.
A high school standout while playing at Ledford, the savvy shooting guard currently leads the 13-2 Storm with an average of 15.9 points per game. His journey to become the leading scorer of the NJCAA Division III powerhouse was one of uncertainty.
Ridge had seen Lawson play on occasion for the Panthers, but he was never a serious target. Lawson showed great interest in the program, attending several games last season. Still, even with his enthusiasm to be a member of the team, he was never extended an offer.
He was eventually given the chance to compete for a jersey and Lawson accepted the challenge. Before he knew it, he not only won that jersey, but he was cracking the starting lineup and becoming a valuable member of the program he so strongly desired to play for.
“We knew Daniel his sophomore year when he was MVP of the Christmas tournament, but to be honest with you I had no idea how talented and athletic he was,” admitted Ridge. “We did not really pursue him and looking back on it that was a mistake. He kind of chose us and then we brought him in to compete for a jersey he has obviously earned. Daniel is a lot of fun to coach because he listens and tries to be a sponge every day. He works hard and kids that work hard and listen are fun to coach.”
Having to play his way on the team made the experience that more special.
“It made it more competitive and fun because it made me work for something that was not guaranteed,” Lawson said. “It feels a lot better knowing I earned something instead of just being signed.”
His preparation to play at the next level began at the end of his junior year when he made a serious commitment to make himself stronger. Though he possessed the skills to play in college, he lacked size and strength.
“One of my assistant coaches from Ledford, at the end of my junior year, told me if I want to play college basketball, that I needed to bulk up and put some weight on,” he said. “Ever since then I have fallen in love with lifting. Before basketball started I would go every morning, then when I got here I got involved with our team lifting sessions. I try to lift anytime I can.”
He has tremendous upper body strength and can take more contact than he could in high school driving to the basket. Where his strength has helped him most, though, comes on the defensive side. He often faces taller opponents, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in muscle. He paces the team in steals with 35 on the year.
“Not only is he one of our better scorers but he is also one of our best defenders,” said Ridge. “He does a good job of keeping his man in front of him and he is a lot stronger than he looks.”
Davidson will begin Tarheel Conference play tonight when highly touted Caldwell enters the doors of Brinkley Gym for a 7 p.m. clash. Recently suffering an injury to his quadricep, Lawson expects to give it a go against the Cobras. DCCC will need him healthy if they are to be a contender in Region X. Lawson knows what the expectations are and he feels the team is in a good position to continue the winning tradition.
“This is a great program and I think we can do well this season because coach Ridge does an amazing job getting us prepared,” said Lawson. “I feel like we are prepared to do well.”
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.