LAWRENCE — Devon Dotson’s best attributes aren't shared by most of his college contemporaries, as evidenced by his spot on the John R. Wooden Award Top 20 Watch List announced this week.
As time winds down on his sophomore campaign, however, one area of proficiency remains elusive for the Kansas point guard: Dotson is shooting just 28.7% from 3-point range, down dramatically from the 36.3% success rate he enjoyed as a freshman.
“Going into each game, you don’t look at that stuff,” said Dotson, speaking ahead of the No. 3-ranked Jayhawks’ game against TCU at 11 a.m. Saturday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. “You just go out there and play your game. If the shots fall, they do, and if they don’t, then just find a different way to win.”
Dotson and KU (19-3, 8-1 Big 12) have done plenty of winning this season, though that question of 3-point shooting lingers — and it’s bigger than a one-player issue.
The Jayhawks are shooting 34.5% from beyond the arc, a mark that ranks 117th nationally. That number is significantly worse in Big 12 play, where KU is shooting a seventh-ranked 32.3% on a league-low 164 attempts. KU has now connected on four or fewer 3s in six of its last 10 games, including a 2 for 12 outing in Monday’s 69-58 home victory over Texas.
“Stats-wise, probably not there,” said Dotson, speaking on the Jayhawks’ 3-point performance this year. “But as the season goes on, anybody can get hot any game. We’re all great shooters.”
KU, which converted 35% of its 3-point tries a season ago and 40.1% in 2017-18, is paced this season by true freshman Christian Braun (41.8%). Senior guard Isaiah Moss (36.8%), sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji (35.6%), junior guard Marcus Garrett (29.4%), Dotson and freshman guard Tristan Enaruna (28%) round out the Jayhawk regulars’ conversion percentages from distance.
Moss, a former graduate transfer from Iowa and career 38.6% shooter from 3-point range, said he and teammates have been putting in the necessary work behind the scenes to right the ship.
“I don’t think we’ve been shooting the ball as well as we could be, but all of us guys, we’ve been in the gym. After practice, before practice, you see guys working on their shot,” Moss said. “So I have no doubt we’ll be better.”
That’s not just talk.
Moss stays around after practices until he’s made 50 3s from five different spots on the floor. At film review, Moss observes makes and misses, and lately he’s noticed a theme among the latter.
“Just I’m not following through as much as I should, I think,” Moss said. “Sometimes you see me and I’ll just put my hand back down. I think I’ve got to follow through a little bit more.”
As for Dotson, Moss said he sees an accurate stroke at practices — “so I believe in him,” Moss added.
That viewpoint is also held by the team’s head coach.
“Devon Dotson is a really, really good college shooter,” Bill Self said Thursday. “He just hasn’t made shots yet.”
Self also reiterated his belief in Agbaji, Garrett and the Jayhawk supporting cast — “I know that we’re better shooters than that,” he said, referring to the group’s clip in Big 12 play.
That said, getting right from 3-point range across the final nine regular season games remains a high priority, a goal set from the top.
“I think it’s going to be a situation, though, where we’re putting too much pressure on our defense and we’re putting too much pressure on our offense to try to get easy baskets if you can’t stretch it,” Self said. “And so I think it also goes to show we probably play better than what some people may think we play offensively just because when the ball doesn’t go in the hole it’s harder to score and generating other offense from inside the arc.
“It’s something that has to happen. We’ve got to start making shots in order to give us our highest ceiling. Doesn’t mean you have to make shots to win, but certainly it would behoove us to do that.”