Just talked to Stanford’s Dwight Powell, a 6-foot-10 senior with a wide-range of skills, about the Cardinal team and its game with UConn on Wednesday night. Powell had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in Stanford’s win over UC-Davis on Saturday, and with a goal of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their careers, this game against UConn at the XL Center is an important step for Stanford’s juniors and seniors.
“I just had a lot of unfinished business here,” Powell said, as he was about to board the team plane to Connecticut. “I wanted to finish my degree, and with the guys I came in with, we didn’t accomplish the goals we had set for ourselves. This is our last opportunity to do that.”
Stanford is 7-2 thus far for coach Johnny Dawkins, the losses coming to BYU and Pitt. They have beaten an AAC team, Houston, 86-76. The Huskies, ranked ninth, figure to be one of Stanford’s toughest non-conference matchups; the Cardinal plays Michigan in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Festival on Saturday. Chasson Randle (18.1), Anthony Brown (16.3), Powell (15.1) and Josh Huestis (11.8) are the leading scorers for Stanford, which has outrebounded opponents 37.2 to 32.9 this season, and is shooting 50.4 percent from the floor.
“We have a lot of things we need to work on,” Powell said. “Defensively, that’s something we hang our hat on, we want to impose our will on that end. That’s one thing we’ll always be working on.”
Like the Huskies, they stress ball movement – they have 131 assists on 260 field goals – and shot selection. Powell, averages 7.3 rebounds and leads the team in assists (37) and steals (14), can be a very difficult matchup – a taller, 240-pound version of DeAndre Daniels, if he can stay out of foul trouble.
“I really just try to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to me,” he said, “and the different mis-matches we may see out there. I do my best to know where my teammates like to be.”
Powell is from Toronto, but, like UConn’s Daniels, played a year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he emerged an elite recruit. He considered several schools, including Harvard, but chose Stanford after falling in love with its campus. He is majoring in Science Technology in Society, “a cross between communications, computer science and management-science engineering,” he said.
Powell was the Pac 12’s most improved player as a junior, and he is on the Wooden Watch List this season.
“Everyone feels pressure,” he said. “It’s everyone’s dream, once you figure out what college you’re going to, to play in the NCAA Tournament for that school, and it’s everyone’s fantasy is to end your season with a win.”