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Dokes, professional star in Turkey, takes ‘Butter’ to Sweet 16

Joe Meixell | Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bookstore Basketball has found its newest star.

Ron Dokes, a 6-foot-8 former starting center at Duquesne and professional star in Turkey, has manhandled opponents while leading CoCoa Butter to the tournament’s Sweet 16.

On Tuesday, Dokes had 10 points and eight boards as CoCoa Butter downed Malicious Prosecution in the round of 32. The big man entertained the crowd with his physical play and four thunderous dunks.

CoCoa Butter teammate Bobby Brown said Dokes’ game could be summed up simply.

“In one word, he’s dominant,” the former Notre Dame wide receiver and current law student said. “He’s the best big man I’ve seen to date in Bookstore.”

Basketball did not always come easily for Dokes, though. In his freshman year at South Bend’s Riley High school, Dokes struggled and became frustrated with the game.

“I was always the overweight kid,” Dokes said. “I wasn’t in good enough shape to really do what I wanted to do. And my coordination hadn’t caught up with my feet yet.”

All that changed when head coach Tom Debates arrived at Riley for Dokes’ sophomore year. Debates recognized Dokes’ potential and encouraged him to get into shape and work on his basketball skills.

“Tom Debates got my weight cut back and put dedication into me,” Dokes said. “He got me up to work out everyday in the summer.”

With Debates’ help, Dokes grew into an excellent high school player. By the end of his junior season, colleges flooded Dokes with scholarship offers. Dokes chose Ball State over Purdue and signed an early letter of intent.

The sudden departure of Ball State’s head coach towards the end of Dokes’ senior year complicated matters, though. Ron was left scrambling to find a place to play. On the recommendation of an ex-teammate, Dokes elected to enroll in Lincoln Trail Junior College in southern Illinois.

Dokes excelled at Lincoln Trail. After two seasons, several Divison I schools were again offering him scholarships, including Kentucky. In the end, though, Dokes chose Duquesne. Duquesne attracted Dokes because of both its basketball and academic opportunities.

“They graduate their players and get the best out of them on the court,” Dokes said. “My biggest goal was to go to a school where I knew I would graduate within that two year time I had.”

Dokes made an immediate impact at Duquesne. He started at center for the Dukes for two years, averaging 10 points and five rebounds per game.

Duquesne coach Danny Nee loved having Dokes in the paint for his squad.

“Ron is a bull around the basket,” Nee said. “He is real strong on the boards and a great finisher inside.”

Dokes graduated from Duquesne in 2004 and traveled overseas to play professionally in Turkey, where he finished the season averaging 18 points and nine rebounds per contest. Dokes credits his experience in Turkey with making him a much tougher basketball player.

“It was a real good experience,” Dokes said. “It taught me how to be stronger with the ball and go to the boards harder. They play dirty, basically. You need to bring your football pads.”

If there is anything stronger than Dokes’ inside game, though, it just might be his character. It seems everyone who knows Dokes admires him for the type of person he is off the basketball court.

“He is maybe a better person than what he is as a basketball player even,” Debates said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. I just love the kid. Every time I see him I tell him how proud I am of him.”

Dokes’ collegiate coach echoed the sentiments of his high school one.

“Ron is the best guy I ever recruited,” Nee said. “He was a model citizen for our team.”

Even the other members of CoCoa Butter, who have only known Dokes for about a month, don’t have enough good things to stay about their new teammate.

“Hopefully we can win some more games and continue to play together,” Brown said.

Standing in the way of that goal is the one big man in the tournament whom Dokes said he felt could give him some trouble – former Irish forward Harold Swanigan. CoCoa Butter will face Swanigan’s Anthony Travel squad Thursday night at 8:15 at the Bookstore.

Dokes is hoping that his team can develop better chemistry and make a run at the championship.

“Athleticism can only take you so far,” he said.

In August, Dokes plans on returning to Europe for another season.

He hopes to sign with a team in either France or Italy and ultimately return to the United States to play on an even bigger stage.

“I’d like to reach the NBA within the next year or two,” Dokes said. “If I have a good season next year, I am definitely going to look to put my name in the draft.”

For now though, Dokes is focusing on his goal of cutting down the Bookstore nets with his teammates on Sunday. With Dokes on its side, CoCoa Butter will be a tough team to beat.