Stories of the Class of 2017: Jon'te Dotson: Leading by Example

The life of a walk-on on any NCAA athletic team is hardly glamorous. Between the dirty, gritty work on scout teams in practice and the fact that they have to pay their way through school via student loans or an outside job, walk-ons rarely receive publicity outside of the locker room.

Those facts alone are enough to make anyone think twice about accepting a walk-on spot on a team, but Jon'te Dotson was no ordinary walk-on.

The lone senior on UNC's 2016 basketball team played more minutes than any other walk-on in the Division I era. Dotson saw action in 65 games. That's a little over two full seasons in four years, hundreds of workouts, practices and studying film for the love of the game.

Dotson started seeing valuable minutes during the 2014-15 season and even started his first game against Montana at home.

The following year, he was no longer looked at as a walk-on, but someone who was a communicator on the floor and played hard regardless of what the situation was on the court.

Unfortunately, a knee injury hindered his playing time during his junior season, forcing him to the sidelines for close to two months.

That wasn't the biggest bump in the road for Dotson. Heading into his senior season, he had to go through a coaching staff change and then learn his fellow classmen were redshirting, leaving him as the only senior on the roster, in a year where he couldn't even play for a conference championship.

Dotson could have easily retired from the game and focused on school during his final year of college, but he's not one to shy away from adversity and hard work.

'At first it was kind of a struggle when I heard my fellow seniors were going to redshirt, but I still had this year even though I didn't know what it was going to be like after. Sometimes life isn't easy and you have to make the best of what you are handed and that's what I tried to do this year."

On the court, Dotson has accomplished what few walks-on have been able to, fighting his way into the rotation season after season, seeing playing time over scholarship players, but what he's done off the court is far more noteworthy.

Dotson will be the first in his family to earn a college degree and is no doubt a role model for all high schoolers in the Denver metro area thinking they have no shot to be a Division I athlete, or even a college graduate.

"It's definitely a great feeling, my mom talks about it almost every day, she's just so proud because where we come from (the south side of Denver) most people don't even get past high school," he said.

Dotson received his bachelor's degree in Economics with a minor in Business Administration, but basketball is still his main passion.

He said that basketball helped him stay out of gangs, away from drugs and out of trouble all his life. It remains his focus, which is why he plans on spending the next year or so working out, attending basketball showcases and building his reputation as a player in hopes of playing professionally.

- Kobee Stalder, UNC Athletics


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