COVINGTON, Ga. — Alysee Dobbs had a change of heart early on in her high school career, and it may have changed the course of her athletic career.
Dobbs, a 5-foot-9 junior guard, and Eastside’s leading scorer over the last several years, is starting to gain more widespread acclaim for her exploits on the basketball court. Her being named the 2018-19 All-Covington News Girls Player of the Year is proof of that.
But would you believe basketball hasn’t always been her thing?
“It definitely flip-flopped,” Dobbs said. “I used to always want to go to college to play softball. And the more I played, I don’t know, but when I got on the basketball court, I felt like I was a different person and that it was where I belonged. I talked to my parents and told them I wanted to make the switch to basketball full time.”
According to Dobbs’ mother, it was a foregone conclusion. Dad needed a little more time to see it, she says.
“I mean, my mom always told me that I’d end up playing basketball in college,” she said. “My dad was more thinking softball. But then the more I got into basketball, he was like, ‘Okay, I see her.’ And they soon we’re fine with it.”
The fact that Dobbs started her high school hoops career off in grand fashion probably didn’t hurt. After a freshman season leading Eastside in scoring — she tallied 20 points per game that year — she was named The Covington News’ girls Freshman of the Year. She was starting for Eastside girls coach Gladys King as a freshman, and showing poise beyond her years.
Early during that freshman season, King, still new in her position at Eastside, issued a challenge to her athletes to start taking basketball more seriously as a year-round sport, and not just something to do during the season. And today, Dobbs has shown that she’s taken that challenge to heart.
“The more I practice in the gym on the off days and in the offseason, the better I’ve gotten,” Dobbs said. “Whether it’s practice at school or working with coach (Marquis Gilstrap), whenever I’m not working out, I’m shooting. I have a ball in my hand.
In the 2018-19 season, Dobbs averaged 14.3 points per game this season to go along with 7 rebounds. Her scoring average was a little bit down, but not because she isn’t the scorer that King has lauded her for being since freshman year.
The emergence of fellow juniors T’Niah Douglas (10.4 ppg) and Dasia Burgess (10 ppg) has helped Eastside formulate a bit of a big three. That Lady Eagles trio was almost enough to propel Eastside back into the state tournament. Eastside’s season came to an end, however, by way of a controversial 53-51 loss to Woodward Academy in the first round of the Region 4-AAAA tournament.
It’s a game Dobbs said she still thinks about today.
“That loss to Woodward was probably the toughest thing this season,” she said. “It hit me hard. We gave our whole selves in that game, and the way it ended was not the way we thought it should’ve ended.”
Dobbs said it’s given her and her teammate a different kind of inspiration to take their games — individually and as a team — to a higher level.
“Every time I think about that game it gets me pumped up,” Dobbs said. “I think that’s why it’s going to help me. I think we all understand the hurt it gave us, and if we use that to work together this summer and into the offseason, I think we should be good next year.”
In addition to the ball handling, working on her core shot and the assortment of drills she’s doing on the court with Gilstrap, King and her Eastside teammates, Dobbs said she’s also honing in on the intangible parts of her game.
“I want to work on getting my leadership better,” she said. “I want to communicate more and get to know the girls on our team better.”
That’s because she believes becoming the most complete player she can be is the best way to help her do what she wants to do more than anything before her basketball playing days at Eastside are done.
“This time next year, I hope to achieve having some offers from college and hopefully signing soon,” she said. “But I really want to see us get a banner in the gym. I think we should have had (a region championship) last year. So I definitely want to see us make that happen next year.”