Basketball and the Baker family, two things that go hand in hand. Whether its shooting a basketball or brushing their teeth, both come just as naturally to the Baker boys. Their story begins with their father Dave Baker, who was an All-Orange County player at Los Alamitos High School. Dave went on to play at Cypress College, and then later at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He taught his four sons, Davis, Donevan, Dusty, and Dawson all they needed to know about the game. They are an impressive group of boys, all playing for great colleges and teams, leading them to success. The youngest, Dawson who currently plays for Capistrano Valley, naturally learned to love basketball by watching those he loved play the game. Dawson’s first word was “ball”. Speaking of his brothers, he says, “They made me want to play. They really motivated me. I had shoes to fill and it pushed me to expect a lot out of myself watching them play.” Dave said of Dawson, “He recognized that [his older brothers] worked really hard. He saw that to get to those next levels, it was very competitive and it wasn’t going to come easy. You had to constantly work and improve to get to that next level. You had to have an inner drive.” And a strong inner drive and motivation seems to be what Dawson excels at most.
It has been said of Dawson, the 6-foot-3 junior guard, that when he has “off” games, he comes home to lace up, still sweaty and sore from the earlier game, and head outside to practice his shots; til midnight if need be. “He wakes up the neighbors,” said his father Dave Baker. “He just works harder. It’s something he has in himself.” It seems to pay off as well! Dawson is averaging an impressive 22.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists a night. He listens to his father’s most important lesson to his boys: there is always a lesson to be learned after a game - no matter how good or bad it was played. Dawson learned to use his talent to his advantage and seems to truly take to heart his father’s words. He says of each game, “I have to keep myself focused. I have to make sure that every shot counts. Every shot is the most important shot.” The boys also learned a lot from their late family friend Kyle Bischoff, who many knew and loved. While still undergoing cancer treatments, Kyle would spend time with Dawson teaching him the importance of a follow through, the curling down of fingers, a good backspin, and the swish.
A fellow teammate says of Dawson, “He’s constantly pushing himself to get the ball. It rubs off on us. We’re always going just as hard as him to match him,” says Kamron Mehr. Dawson’s ball playing has generated recruiting interest from Utah State, Air Force, Santa Clara, and UC Davis. However, Dawson plans to follow in family tradition and pause his career in basketball to serve a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before pursuing any college basketball. What would be considered ridiculous or silly to some, is seen as quite the opposite by Dawson. “I see my playing as an opportunity that wouldn’t be possible without God. We are here for a reason and for me, that is not just to play good basketball, but also to serve the Lord. It is something I believe I need to do and something I owe Him. It’s only fair for me to give two years of my life in service to Him, after all He has given me.”
As impressive as Dawson’s ball skills are, his testimony of the Lord and his desire to prioritize his life first around God is an amazing example of maturity and righteousness. We can all look to him as an example. Dawson excels at his skills on the court, one being stayed focused on the game, but he also excels at the striving to live the commandments and doing what God has asked. Dawson says when he returns from his mission, he plans to pursue college basketball. Best of luck Dawson!