Although he plays a stones throw away in Gary, Indiana
, Branden Dawson
has never been included in the conversation of the Chicagoland area's best basketball players.
Dawson should more than prove he belongs. A five-star prospect and rated No. 17 overall in the Class of 2011, Dawson was recently called, "the best offensive rebounder in the class," by Scout.com's Dave Telep.
So far Dawson is 2-0 at NBPA Top 100 Camp and is averaging 13 points per game. Good enough for seventh overall in the camp.
"It's been amazing playing against the best competition," Dawson said. "This is the best opportunity I've ever had in my life. Playing against all the best players and just competing, playing together as a team, coming together as a team."
Dawson may be a high-level athlete, but he is also running with an extremely talented group that includes Rodney Hood
, Sidiki Johnson
, Bernard Sullivan
and Marcus Paige
"It's been real good, guys are not selfish. You come to these camps and guys are (usually) selfish," Dawson said of his teammates. "We have good big men who can rebound the ball; guards with high IQ. So we've been doing good, playing hard."
Although known as a tenacious offensive rebounder, Dawson has spent the summer working on other aspects of his game.
"Yeah (rebounding) is my best strength," Dawson admitted. "But I've been working on my other stuff; my mid-range, ball-handling, stuff like that."
While Dawson's top six of Georgetown
, Indiana and Michigan State
has remained the same for awhile, some new schools have also begun to enter the picture.
have all recently shown interest in Dawson. DePaul has not offered a scholarship, but Branden and his Gary Lew Wallace teammates will be in Chicago for the DePaul Team Camp next week.
Gary Lew Wallace is scheduled to play Morgan Park in Monday's 3 p.m. session, which would pit five-star small forwards Wayne Blackshear
and Dawson against each other.
Dawson and Gary Lew Wallace also will participate in Purdue's Team Camp and Branden will participate in the Paul Pierce
and LeBron James
And while he spent some of the spring running with the Chicago-based Meanstreets AAU program, Dawson acknowledged that he will be with the Indiana-based SYF Players for the month of July.
Keep it tuned right here as WeAreDePaul.com brings you the best from NBPA Top 100 Camp in Virginia.
When DePaul's Team Camp opens up play on Monday, a new face will enter the building that is not familiar to fans of Chicago basketball.