Attention high-school athletes: If you want to learn how to compete – to really, truly compete – you should watch Isaac Dotson.
Not just the way the senior from Newport High School in Bellevue can run as a quarterback, or the way he can score 20 points in basketball. It goes deeper than that. Dotson is the rare supreme high-school athlete who also hones in on “the little things.” In state tournament basketball game, for example, Dotson delivered such a solid (and clean) screen he knocked the wind out of the guy.
It is for these small, often overlooked details – in addition to the fact that he was a Star Times selection in football and a first-team KingCo 4A selection in basketball in one of the state’s toughest leagues – that Dotson is The Seattle Times High School Male Athlete of the Year.
“I take pride in paying attention to detail because it’s the little things that set you apart,” he said. “Those are the things people ignore and take for granted and just go through the motions with. But when you really focus on those little things – your footwork on carrying out fakes in football, those screens or boxing out in basketball – that’s what makes a difference.
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“The things that nobody really sees are the things that can determine the outcome.”
Said Issaquah basketball coach Jason Griffith: “You watch him play and when you think he’s not impacting a play, you go back and watch film and see that he really is.”
That’s not to say that Dotson can’t do special things on the court or the field. He’s a four-year varsity football player and a four-year varsity basketball player.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in football and passed for more than 700 in his senior season. He also played a little safety; he once picked off Max Browne, former Skyline High and current USC quarterback. Newport coach Mike Miller said Dotson was his team’s biggest hitter in a game against Roosevelt.
On the basketball court, Dotson, who is 6 feet 3, 210 pounds, struck a balance between the grace required to shoot or drive by defenders and the strength that served him so well in football. He averaged 13 points and nine rebounds and often went up against much bigger players inside.
“He’s a beast,” Griffith said. “I’ve seen him throw around bigger, stronger kids.”
Dotson also draws praise for his leadership ability and character. He’s helping Newport basketball coach Steve Haizlip and his family move. He let Haizlip’s dogs out Sunday. And he came to the coach’s 6-year-old son’s birthday party.
“He’s always had a very unselfish attitude,” Haizlip said, “and he has never, ever worried about himself. It’s so funny how many times I asked him if he was hurt. He’d look at me like, ‘Coach, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.’
“I always look at this and say, ‘Am I ever going to be able to coach a player like him again?’ ”
Dotson will go to Washington State on a football scholarship this month. The Cougars recruited him as an athlete, but he said they will give him an opportunity at quarterback.
Those who know him have no doubt he will compete.