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Another Favorite Devil!

Today's favorite Devil is the amazing Johnny Dawkins, a guy so slight that when he answered the door for Jay Bilas the first time, Bilas asked to speak to his older brother. That's the story we heard anyway; we think it's a banquet tale, though it could be apocryphal. Anyway, here are some letters touting Johnny D., perhaps the physically most amazing Devil of all.

Having arrived in Durham in the fall of 1981, I was there for the two very trying seasons of '81-'82 and '82-'83. The single player most responsible for making Coack K the institution he is today was Johnny Dawkins. The class of 1986 was fantastic with Alarie, Henderson and Bilas too, but Johnny was the superstar that elevated the team. He was exciting yet humble. I may not remember the quote exactly, but Johnny summed up what is great about Duke and about Duke basketball when he explained his decision to attend Duke (and not the Evil Empire). He said something to the effect that when he visited Duke he was made to feel like a normal student and not just a star athlete. When Duke was hotly recruiting Durham native Curtis Hunter, Hunter said the opposite. He chose Carolina because they made him feel like a superstar. If that doesn't say something about the differences between K and Deano, I am not sure what does. It is not to say that anything is wrong with wanting t!
o feel like a star, but I think it says a lot about the character of the kids that Coach K recruits. They want to be part of something special and that includes the University, but they do not crave the limelight. I am sure that K caters his recruiting to the individual and the approach that worked for Johnny might not be the best for another. Let's just say that Johnny's sentiments made me proud to support the program.

Tim Newbold T'85.

Johnny Dawkins was so unreal at a time that Duke basketball began to flourish. I have tapes on Beta Max, yes Beta Max, of him as a Sophomore, Junior, and Senior. It was amazing how dominant such a small player could be. The two games in Carmicheal always stick out for me during his Sophomore and Junior Years. The one in 1984, his Sophomore year, was the Double OT thriller, where Johnny outplayed Michael Jordan for the entire game (and Mark Alarie outplayed Sam Perkins, but that is another story). Even though Duke lost, this game to me was the turning point for Coach K and Duke. The next week, Duke did beat UNC in the ACC tourney, but the previous game proved to them that they compete with the upper echelon in the nation.
The game in Carmichael, Johnny's Junior Year in 1985 was very special, it was the last game Duke played in the old gym, and blew UNC right off the court, and Dawkins was unstoppable. It was the last Duke/UNC game in Carmichael and Duke blew UNC off of the court.

And who could forget the backwards dunk in the 1986 NCAA Eastern Regional Finals over Navy Guard Doug Wojick (former UNC Asst coach)!

I think with the late 80's, 90's and ealy 00's, Dawkins greatness has been forgotten or at least been lost a little bit with time. With Hurley, Hill Laettner, Brand, Langdon, Battier, J-Will, etc...the value of Dawkins to the development of Duke basketball has been taken for granted. Along with that class (Bilas, Alarie, Henderson, Williams), Dawkins was the cornerstone that is all things Duke basketball success from 1984 until now. He even continues to contribute on the bench as Coach K's right hand man

This one is easy. One single player is 100% responsible for our current success. That player is Johnny Dawkins. We owe him everything. He was Coach K's first big recruit. Once he signed on with Duke, Mark Alarie, Jay Bilas and others agreed to come. They eventually went on to represent us at the Final versus Louisville. And although we did not win that game, it put the current Duke era on the map. It made us a winner in the eyes of everyone, and made recruiting for Coach K alot easier. Hence, we have continued to do well, because we get the top players. Of course it doesn't hurt that Coach K is one hell of a GREAT Coach!!

S. Ahmad (Cincinnati)

Johny Dawkins. As a kid, I grew up hearing how Dick Groat walked on water and the best father's day gift I ever gave my Dad was a Dick Groat card (not to mention buying him tickets to the '99 banquet where we got to meet the legend). Although David Thompson remains the hero of my youth (other side of family a bunch of wolfpackers), it is hard not to list "Tinkerbell" as the most impressive physical specimen ever to wear a Duke uniform and recall what a great tandem he and Kenny Dennard made in that magical 1978 year (and why does no one mention John Harrell (sp?) as a transfer?). That rambling aside, the modern era all starts with Johny. When he agreed to come, others followed. Being part of the class of 86, I recall nearly empty student sections our freshmen year and was front row behind the basket for the 43 point loss to UVa (Cardiac Pack gave Sampson his last two collegiate losses). Has any player ever developed more over the course of 4 years - from an erratic, pencil!
thin guard that caused me to wince whenever he shot to a national player of the year? Anyone that knows Johny knows what a class act he is as a man and should also come away impressed by how hard he worked in the classroom while at Duke when there were comments about his academic abilities (a common enough rumor about players over the years). The success he, Alarie, Bilas, Henderson, Amaker, and others had in those early K years laid the road for the success of later years - success that should continue when Johny moves a spot up the coaching bench.

My favorite blue devil of all-time is a duo. The backcourt of Dawkins and Amaker back in the 80's was one of the best backcourts of all-time. They played of each other so well, Dawkins the scorer and Amaker the playmaker and defender. They each knew their role and played it very well. I know this is favorite blue devil, but I couldn't choose between the two.

Rob Hayes

Sanford NC

First time writing you, but I come to the site every day.

My favorite, with nods to Robert Brickey and Thomas Hill, is no other than Johnny Dawkins.
I have a few Duke Graduates in my family, so I was destined to follow the Devils. My first season of Basketball was 1984-85, even though the famous Danny M. played on that team, it was all about Dawkins. I went to see the '86 team, wipes away tears, play Old Dominion at the Greensboro Coliseum and I swear to you, Johnny waved right at me. Never mind the other 20,000 people, he was telling me thanks for cheering him on. Also, I was quite bothered to see the Bulls not take him in the draft to play with that guy from that other school.

Johnny Dawkins.

Led the resurgence of Duke hoops and was class act to boot. Will never forget him beating David Rivers and Notre Dame in Cameron.

Plus he had a sense of humor. Back then the players mostly lived in the Central Campus apartments and would hang out in the basement of Trent Dorm in Gradeli's and play video games. Despite all of their accomplishments, they just seemed like regular guys, particularly Johnny.

There are so many that I think it is almost impossible to pick an all time favorite. But, put on the spot to do this, I would pick Johnny Dawkins as he and other 1986 Blue Devils really broke it open as far as setting us on a NCAA streak is concerned. And this team had a big impact on recruiting and the 3 Championships that we now have.

Of course, I admire all of the Blue Devils and always will.