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Greg Jones

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Garrett junior Brandi Dawson is averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds per game this season.

Garrett junior more aggressive

– Brandi Dawson is certainly a nontraditional standout girls basketball player. The Garrett junior developed her game and reputation without the benefit of playing much AAU basketball, as most high school players do.

It was the individual-first aspect of the travel-basketball organization that wasn’t the right fit for Dawson, who is averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds per game this season.

“I didn’t really like it much because whenever they would get the ball, they would just take it,” she said of not playing AAU. “They wouldn’t set up any offense or pass it much. I didn’t really like that.”

In fact, Dawson played AAU for the first time just this summer for Lady Legit.

“Brandi had a hard time adjusting to the 1-on-1 style,” Garrett coach Bob Lapadot said. “Not that she can’t play that style, she is just so used to helping her teammates and playing together as a unit that it was a very difficult transition for her.”

Eventually, Dawson found some benefits from playing AAU.

“I thought it would help my aggressiveness more on the court,” said Dawson, who has a half-dozen colleges interested in her, including some mid-major Division I programs. “It did. And I started playing faster, too. It will help me in playing something different than Garrett basketball.”

The lack of AAU basketball prior to this year, though, didn’t seem to hamper Dawson, who has 708 career points and is on pace to challenge the school career scoring record of 1,243 points sometime next year. She could also finish as the school’s second-leading career rebounder with around 700 rebounds.

“She has a chance to do things in this program that have never been done before,” Lapadot said. “The numbers she has a chance to put up, may never be reached again. But, if you ask her, the milestone she wants to achieve is not stat-related; she wants to be a part of the program’s first state championship team.”

There’s still work to be done for Dawson. A role player in her first two seasons with the Railroaders, Dawson has needed a push in making the transition to the go-to scorer. She is averaging 14 shots per game, but the goal from the coaches is 20.

“I see her do things in practice that I haven’t seen anyone do in the 18 years I’ve been here,” Lapadot said. “Her ceiling is so high, as she continues to get stronger and develop all aspects of her game, she can become unstoppable.”

And the shots aren’t always her typical driving and slashing variety, as Dawson has become more comfortable with shooting more from the outside.

“I always just looked to pass the ball when I had to shoot threes, and I was wide open,” she said. “I was honestly kind of scared to shoot them. Now I have been practicing on it more, and it has been falling in the games.”

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.