HARRISONBURG — One of the most highly anticipated recruiting classes James Madison basketball has secured in years grew even bigger Tuesday evening with the verbal commitment of Fairmont, W.Va., guard Zyon Dobbs.
Dobbs, a muscular 6-4 athlete who can play both the point and shooting guard spots, became the sixth member of the class, joining Virginia High School League Class 6 Player of the Year Michael Christmas from Landstown High School in Virginia Beach, Class 3 Player of the Year Julien Wooden from Roanoke’s Northside High, Quinn Richey from Mount Pisgah Christian School in Georgia, Mike Fowler from Greensboro (N.C.) Day School and Jayvis Harvey from Southern High School in Durham, N.C.
A first-team all-state selection the past two seasons in West Virginia, Dobbs chose the Dukes over North Carolina A&T, Tennessee-Martin and IUPUI. Before committing, Dobbs had considered spending a year at a prep school before beginning his college career, but instead he will move to Harrisonburg this weekend to begin summer drills with the rest of the JMU team as the Dukes begin preparation for Louis Rowe’s fourth season as coach at his alma mater.
“It’s happening fast,” Dobbs said. “I was in for a workout last week and liked everything about it. I liked all the guys and Coach Rowe is my kind of coach. Playing in their system, everything just flowed for me and the school is just amazing. I was surprised how beautiful it was.”
Dobbs, whose father Deon played at Marshall, may turn out to be a hidden gem found by the Dukes staff. JMU assistant Rob Summers, who played college ball just 20 minutes down the road from Fairmont at West Virginia University, began watching Dobbs during his junior season and has been keeping in touch since.
Recently, sources close to the program have indicated the Dukes have really liked the way Dobbs’ game has developed and the staff believes his tough, physical style can translate well to the Colonial Athletic Association where teams such as Towson, College of Charleston and others are known for big guards who aren’t afraid of contact.
The addition of a sixth-member of the recruiting class does bring up some questions.
Prior to Dobbs commitment, JMU had 13 scholarship players, the NCAA limit for men’s basketball. Sources had said in the past that if the Dukes were to add another player in 2019, JMU might ask one player already on the roster to give up his scholarship for the coming season.
Matthew Urbach, who played sparingly as a freshman, but came up with some big plays off the bench late in the season, had put his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal at one time following the season. But as the spring progressed it seemed more and more likely he would stay at JMU.
That will likely all be sorted out in the coming weeks, but in the meantime the Dukes have added the young point guard it had been looking for to step in as a backup and potential heir apparent to Deshon Parker, who moved into the starting lineup this winter midway through his freshman season.
“I can’t wait to get there,” Dobbs said. “It’s three hours from home, so that’s pretty nice and I just knew it was the place for me.”