Oct. 31, 2007
DeKALB, IL --- In the late 1970s, the local basketball in-crowd referred to Northern Illinois University's 6-foot-5 all-star forward Paul Dawkins as "The Doctor" or "Doctor D." To the Huskie faithful in Chick Evans Field House, it was "Doctor D this" and "Doctor D" that. In the jam-packed stands, handmade student placards read: "Score one for me, Doctor D."
You also must know that this unofficial Paul Dawkins Appreciation Society was also familiar with the one and only Julius Erving, the original (and greatest) "Doctor" who, at the time, performed his classic and unique high-wire act in the National Basketball Association.
During his tenure at Northern Illinois and in the Mid-American Conference---and later in the professional ranks, DeKalb's version of "The Doctor" put on his own mind-blowing one-man show---all within the team context---along with some impressive resume-building statistics that earned him the nickname, numerous team, regional, and national individual honors, and a shot at the NBA. In short, "Doctor D" was one of the Huskies' all-time hardwood greats.
Which is the exact reason why Dawkins will return to his hometown this Friday (November 2) for induction into the Saginaw (MI) County Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies held at Horizon's Banquet & Conference Center. Dawkins will be enshrined with eight other local individuals and four teams.
"Boy, if anyone deserves that honor, it's certainly Paul," said Hall of Fame Northern Illinois head men's basketball coach John McDougal. "There is no doubt. He was a truly great one---a rare talent that comes along once a decade or so. If he wasn't the best, believe me, Paul's right at the top of the list.
"Offensively, there were few who could touch him. Paul was a threat anywhere in the frontcourt," McDougal added. "He had a tremendous jump shot, great range, an uncanny outside touch. He could take it to the basket and rebound against bigger opposition. As a senior, he was a marked man in the MAC and was still unstoppable.
"What people tend to forget is how team-oriented and unselfish Paul was," McDougal reminded in reference to "Doctor D's" career-high 47-point performance at Western Michigan in a 102-100 overtime victory on February 28, 1979. "Point-wise, he had a phenomenal performance, but I will never forget that last play of the game. Paul swatted a Western Michigan shot into the bleachers so we could win a difficult MAC game on the road."
Unbeatable off his sweet spot on the baseline and deadly off the dribble, Dawkins was equally tough inside or outside---a combination difficult to defend. Thanks to that rapid-fire southpaw stroke from 18-to-23 feet, "Doctor D" garnered attention from NBA scouts and got drafted by the Utah Jazz (10th round pick in 1979). "Without a doubt, he is the smoothest operator I've ever been associated with," commented McDougal when Dawkins made the school's All-Century Team in 2000-01.
Indeed, "Doctor D" defined legendary.
Dawkins graduated from Northern Illinois with seven major school basketball records---including most single-season points (695 in 1978-79), most career points (1,749 in 1975-79), most career field goals (751 in 1975-79), and best single-season scoring average (26.7 ppg. in 1978-79). As a senior, "The Doctor" captured the MAC scoring title, won Mid-Am Player of the Year honors, and finished No. 5 nationally in scoring by breaking the 30-point barrier eight times that winter. In addition, No. 44 made First-Team All-MAC, First-Team U. S. Basketball Writers Association All-District Four, and Special Mention Sporting News All-America, plus appeared on the national ballot for the Pizza Hut All-Star Classic.
A three-year regular, the 190-pound Dawkins averaged 21.0 ppg. in his three final Huskie campaigns (1,635 points in 78 games). During his collegiate career (1976-79), the "Doctor" was named MAC Player of the Week three times, First-Team All-MAC twice, plus Northern Illinois team captain and MVP twice.
In pro ball, Dawkins played swingman a year and a half with the NBA Utah Jazz (1979-81), then the Anchorage Northern Knights in the Continental Basketball Association, and finally nine years (1982-90) in Turkey. Before Karl Malone arrived, Dawkins held the Jazz scoring record for a half (30 points in 24 minutes vs. Portland in 1980-81). In 1982-83, he averaged a career-best 37 points and 14 rebounds in the Turkey professional league.
His 47-point house call at Western Michigan remains the best individual single-game point total in Northern Illinois' Division I tenure since 1967-68 and the 14th best, currently, in Mid-Am history. Inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991, Dawkins also made the All-Time Chick Evans Field House Team in 1997. In 1998, "Doctor D" led all scorers with 22 points in the Mid-Am Legends All-Star Game in Toledo, OH. In 2003, Dawkins returned to campus and produced 17 points and 11 rebounds in the annual Northern Illinois Alumni Game at the Convocation Center.
As a prep at Saginaw High School, Dawkins was selected the team's Most Valuable Player and All-Saginaw Valley Conference as a senior under head coach Charlie Coles, currently the head men's basketball coach at Miami (OH).
(For further information, please contact Mike Korcek, SID Emeritus) -NIU-