HUNTINGTON — John Dawson’s national quest for a basketball scholarship ended a mere 43 miles from home.

The former Huntington High School standout guard signed with West Virginia State University this week after a stellar year at Lakeland (Ohio) Community College. Dawson, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound guard, averaged 16 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game with the Lakers last season.

“I was fixing to go to another junior college, but I visited West Virginia State and I loved it,” Dawson said. “I knew I needed to find a home and finish my last three years of college.”

Dawson, who helped Huntington St. Joe (2016) and Huntington High (2017) win state championships, was a first-team Ohio Community College Athletic Conference first-team selection and a National Junior College Athletic Association all-Region 12 first-team pick. He was named the OCCAC player of the week five times. Dawson shot 39.7 percent from the floor, including 37.2 percent from 3-point range, and 73.8 percent from the free throw line.

“I had a pretty good year,” said Dawson, whose brother Mikal and sister Jordyn play at the University of Akron.

Dawson said the junior college experience made him a better play and helped him mature.

“I grew up kind of fast, faster than I thought,” Dawson said. “I learned that the competition is through the roof. Some people think juco players aren’t very good, but there is a lot of talent. I mean a lot of talent. It was ridiculous. Going there made me better in every aspect.”

Dawson said his goal is to start, but he knows nothing will be handed to him on a team that lost only one senior off last season’s 12-17 squad that finished 9-13 in the mountain East Conference.

“I know I have to earn everything,” Dawson said. “Nothing is going to be given to me. I want to get as much playing time as I can. I want to start.”

Dawson said he is pleased to play so close to home.

“My friends and family can come see me play,” Dawson said. “They don’t have to drive four hours, now. It’s just 40 miles up the road.”

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