UC Irvine guard Dawson Baker entered his name on the transfer portal Friday afternoon. Why is that relevant to BYU? Dawson is a member of the LDS Church and a returned missionary.
UC Irvine G Dawson Baker has entered the transfer portal. https://t.co/kQTFEgAgTK— Verbal Commits (@VerbalCommits) April 7, 2023
A three-year starter for UC Irvine, Dawson has averaged double figures all three seasons. He was Big West freshman of the year in 2020-2021 and was named All Big West Second Team this past season. Dawson was the team’s leading scorer for the Big West regular season champs, averaging 15.3 points on 47% shooting from the floor and 37% from three. He was top 200 nationally in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, according to kenpom, and shoots 80% from the foul line. His scoring increased each season from 10.7 as a freshman, 11.2 as a sophomore, and 15.3 in his third year. This past season he also averaged 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.6 turnovers.
Will BYU pursue Dawson? Yes. He is one of the best LDS players in the country and would give scoring punch to a BYU team that needs guys that can create their own shot and put the ball in the basket. With the COVID year from his freshman season that didn’t count against eligibility, Dawson still has two years left to play.
By the team you read this, BYU coaches have probably already reached out to Dawson. BYU will be one of the schools in the mix. Dawson is from Southern California, so I can see Pac-12 and MWC teams also pursuing. If he wants to go to a school where he will be the clear number one or two option, then he may consider other schools. A school like Cal, for example, makes sense where he could play for a LDS coach and have a good chance to start right away in his home state.
I think Dawson can have a Spencer Johnson like impact if he chooses BYU. He is more of a two guard at 6-foot-4, but can handle the ball and would be a combo guard at his next stop. Dawson is a crafty scorer that can score from all three levels. He is a good three-point shooter, but only 32% of his field goal attempts come from behind the arc. He’s attempted more free throws than three pointers in his career and works to get to the basket.
BYU currently has two open scholarships and is already pursuing guards like Steven Ashworth and Joe Girard, among several others, so adding two guards would likely mean an existing player needs to transfer out. Big man Aly Khalifa is also on campus right now for his visit, so BYU has a limited amount of scholarships they are working with. If the scholarships can line up and Dawson would be comfortable with his role, then I think BYU would consider adding add Dawson. This isn’t a slam dunk situation like Steven Ashworth where BYU would 100% add Baker like they would Ashworth, but he should shoot up the list of players BYU is considering. I know BYU is talking to several guards, but Dawson seemingly has fewer barriers to consider BYU since he is LDS.
The current staff wasn’t at BYU when Dawson came out of high school as part of the 2018 class, and they’ll reach out to him this time around. Dawson would be a nice addition for BYU as they head into the Big 12 and would provide some much needed scoring punch for an offense that had its struggles last season.
You can watch highlights from Dawson below.