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Carlos Dotson and the Western Carolina Catamounts are ready to surprise the Southern Conference

Mark Prosser has already got folks buzzing in Cullowhee with his first signing class at Western Carolina.

NCAA Basketball: Western Carolina at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Calling Western Carolina’s offseason a whirlwind would be an understatement.

Back in late March, Mark Prosser was introduced as Western’s 18th head basketball coach after longtime head coach Larry Hunter stepped down. A month later came the tragic news about the passing of coach Hunter due to a stroke, all while Prosser was recruiting and putting together a staff. This tragedy brought Western Carolina basketball to a momentary halt.

Months later, Prosser has finally gotten a chance to settle into the community of Cullowhee, hire his staff and hit the recruiting trail. One of his first recruits on his board was College of Central Florida forward Carlos Dotson, a player Prosser recruited last year at Winthrop, while he was the top assistant under Pat Kelsey.

“I realize there is a high level of basketball in the SoCon,” Dotson said. “I know most of the people are going to pick us low, but I relish being in that underdog role and being doubted. I think we have the players to be a surprise in the league this coming season.”

Prosser will depend on the size, low-post scoring ability and rebounding of Dotson in the wake of Mike Amius’s (12.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg) departure, who decided to turn pro this offseason. In Dotson’s one season at the College of Central Florida, he averaged 13.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg and posted an impressive 60.3% shooting clip. He posted 22 double-digit scoring performances in 32 games, including 13 double-doubles and four games in which he scored 20 or more points.

“I am still learning the game, but I know my strength is down on the low-block,” Dotson said. “I am really looking forward to working with coach Prosser and his staff to become an even better player this year, and be a dependable post player and be able to do everything my coaches and teammates ask of me.”

Dotson is a unique talent and an adept athlete. He’s unlike the type player that Western has had since Richie Gordon. He is cerebral, handles the ball well in the open floor, and is now busy developing his mid-range game under the mentorship of the new coaching staff.

“One of the things I have been doing this summer is working on my mid-range game, and working each day to be better than I was the previous day. I have been working out [Orlando Magic forward] Mo Speights over the summer.”

Dotson was excited about not only working with his new coaches and teammates for the 2018-19 season, but also competing against some familiar faces on any given night in SoCon play. Dotson was either AAU teammates and opponents with Furman’s Andrew Brown, The Citadel’s Hayden Brown, and Furman’s Jalen Williams, to name a few.

In high school, Dotson was a standout player in both football and basketball at Dorman High School in Spartanburg, SC.

“I had offers to play both [sports],” Dotson said. “I actually had Louisville looking at me for football during my sophomore and junior seasons.”

Naturally, the 6’7, 265-pound Dotson chose the college basketball hardwood. But he took a rather circuitous route he would travel before making his way to Western Carolina University.

“I started my career at [Division II] Anderson University, but it was different than playing in JUCO because I was facing guys that were more mature and experienced,” Dotson said. “So I had a lot to learn.”

During his lone season spent as an Anderson Trojan, Dotson battled nagging ankle injuries and eventually decided to transfer. Despite the injuries that limited his time as a Trojan, Dotson still managed to garner South Atlantic Conference All-Freshman Team honors.

Instead of pursuingDivision I opportunities following his season at Anderson, he decided to look at his opportunities to develop as a player with a more mature game at the JUCO level.

His journey would then take him to Central Florida, where he would continue his career at the College of Central Florida. It’s a known fact that there is plenty of junior college talent in the Sunshine State, and plenty of coaches ready to sign said talent. Just ask East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes, who has established a pipeline of sorts from Northwest Florida State Community College to ETSU.

Dotson is one of four players in Prosser’s first recruiting class at Western Carolina, which includes three freshmen (guards Josh Cottrell and Kameron Gibson, plus forward D.J. Myers) and Northern Kentucky transfer Mason Faulkner.