Chase, Dawkins earn ESPN honors

by Beacon Staff • February 13, 2008

Senior captains Ben Chase and Will Dawkins have been named to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-District team, which was selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.,The season isn't quite finished, but two senior Lions are already collecting accolades for their performances on and off the court.

Senior captains Ben Chase and Will Dawkins have been named to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-District team, which was selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Chase has been named to the first team, while Dawkins was selected for the second squad.

For Chase, a forward from Newburyport, Mass., it is his second consecutive selection to the team. The marketing communication and TV/video double major has a 3.78 grade-point average and is a member of the Emerson College Gold Key Honor Society.

Even with two majors to juggle and three hours per day spent on the basketball court, Chase said he finds it easier to focus when he has so many things on his plate.

"Basketball helps me get into a regimented schedule," Chase said. "Without it, I always think I can stay up and just do things later."

Dawkins, a guard from Springfield, Mass., is a broadcast journalism major with a 3.51 grade-point average. He is the president of the Emerson Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was named to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference all-star team in both his junior and senior seasons.

Dawkins said keeping his grades up has been easier for him as he has gotten older.

"After four years, you learn to manage," he said. "It's allowed my GPA to get higher."

Both players said one of the most important individuals keeping them motivated has been Head Coach Hank Smith. Dawkins said he remembers bringing Smith progress reports from his teachers early in his career.

"Coach [Smith] stays on you about academics," he said. "He wants reports from your teachers to make sure you're doing all right."

Chase agreed that Smith is tough on all of his players about their academic standing.

"Lots of programs bring in great players who aren't great students," he said. "That's not part of the lesson for Coach Smith."

Smith does not allow players to be captains unless they keep a 3.0 GPA, and to remain a member of the team, players must keep a minimum 2.7 GPA.

"[Academics] are extremely important, more so [than basketball]," Smith said. "On the court, they're only here for a short time. But after, they have a lifetime to live."

Smith has been coaching the two players since they arrived on campus as freshmen. He said they have grown over the past few years not just as players, but as individuals.

"Luckily, they had both [academic and athletic ability]," Smith said. "They were always mature kids, but they've become more focused. They're better players."

Both Chase and Dawkins are also making a large impact on the court as well this season. Chase is the team's leading scorer with an average of over 18 points-per-game, while Dawkins is right behind with more than 17. The two serve as team captains along with fellow senior Joe Boylan and have helped Emerson to a 19-3 start.

Both players have plans for their futures after they graduate in May. Chase said he can continue his current internship at Sun Life Financial or attend graduate school, while Dawkins has been offered a training position to work for ESPN. However, both student-athletes said their goal would be to move westward to work for an Emerson alumni, Seattle Sonics general manager Sam Presti.

"We'd really like to intern with the Sonics," Dawkins said. "Ben, Joe [Boylan] and I could move to Seattle. Hopefully, we could work our way up through the NBA ranks."