GROWTH EXPERIENCE : Gylan Dottin, Former Saddleback High Star, Is Coming Into His Own Playing Ball at the University of San Diego
Last winter, Gylan Dottin was leading Saddleback High School to its most successful boys’ basketball season.
Dottin averaged 19.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists in guiding the Roadrunners to a 24-5 record and their first Sea View League championship. He was named to The Times’ all-Orange County and all-Southern Section teams. He was a McDonald’s All-American honorable mention and earned a scholarship to the University of San Diego.
After admirable play in a reserve role in the Toreros’ first 4 games, Dottin got his first start Thursday night against Cal State Fullerton. He and Dondi Bell led USD with 15 points each, though Fullerton won, 68-66.
USD (3-2) is off to a surprising start considering the team’s youth.
Dottin, a freshman who will be 19 Jan. 10, is far from the youngest Torero. Five other freshmen are younger and one is 2 months older. Five other teammates are sophomores, and there are only 2 seniors and 1 junior. It is Egan’s youngest team in 18 years as a Division I coach.
So when will the young players mature, their potential be realized? When might this team be good rather than promising?
Egan says those questions may never be answered. But Dottin is helping to make them less troublesome than they were 2 weeks ago, before USD won a tournament at the University of New Mexico.
With 21 points and 12 rebounds in victories over Lehigh and New Mexico, Dottin was Egan’s pick for the tournament’s most valuable player, though he wasn’t even selected to the all-tournament team.
Including a blowout of Cal Lutheran (90-64) and last week’s loss to UC Santa Barbara (76-58), Dottin, a 6-foot 5-inch guard/forward, is third on the team in scoring (11.2 average), second in rebounding (5.4) and tied for second in assists (2.6).
He leads the team in 3-point percentage (71%) and offensive rebounds (15).
But these numbers don’t tell the entire story. Ask Egan for some insight, and his first response is: “He’s loose.”
That’s followed by: “Gylan has a great sense of humor about life and other people.”
Pat Quinn, Saddleback’s coach of 10 years, said, “Gylan’s attitude was fantastic. He was a great kid.
“I had him for 3 years, and we really miss him this year even though we’re 4-0. He was a guy who made everybody else look real good.”
Said Egan: “No matter what I tell Gylan . . . if I say, ‘Go run through that wall,’ he’ll say, ‘No problem coach.’ He’ll do whatever you ask, at least try.”
Such as play forward (his high school position) or guard (he’s a good ballhandler).
“Wherever they need me,” Dottin said. “I’ve mostly played forward. But at guard, you get the feeling of freedom. The rare times I got to play guard, I really enjoyed it.
“I just like being 6-5 and playing guard rather than being 6-5 and playing forward.
“I don’t want to be labeled as a scorer or a rebounder or a passer. My ultimate dream is a triple-double (double figures in scoring, rebounds and assists). I’ve come close many times, but I’ve been shy by 1 assist or 1 rebound.”
He added, “I love the fast break. Slow-down games are for teams that are big. I like an aggressive game with lots of energy.”
Dottin was born in San Francisco, and his family moved around quite a bit before settling in Santa Ana 12 years ago. His younger brother, Malru, is now a senior and has taken over for him on the Saddleback team this season.
Gylan says he took an early interest in all sports, but basketball was clearly his favorite. He also enjoys music and art.
“I could stand in a gallery for hours and just stare at the paintings,” he said.
He chose USD because of its business school.
“You can play basketball at any school, but education comes first,” he said.
Said Egan: “The guy who was really high on him was Mike Legarza, who heads our recruiting. We recruited Gylan very hard and stayed with him.
"(The Dottin) family handled the recruiting process as well as any family I’ve ever seen.”
Dottin was recruited by most of the Pacific 10 and Big West teams.
“I’ve adjusted fine,” Dottin said to his life at USD. “Coach Egan and some of the older guys have really helped me out.”
While Egan knows Dottin and his team will mature, Dottin also likes to think he’s still growing in stature. “I think I’ve grown a half an inch since I’ve been here,” he said.
Maybe, like the rest of the basketball team, he’s just walking a little taller these days.