Seniors Michael Dowdy Jr. and Madison Jones may not have played four years of basketball at Seton Hall, but the two will always value the time they spent as Pirates.
Dowdy, a walk-on to the Seton Hall team, and Jones, a transfer from Wake Forest, were honored at Senior Night on Feb. 28 in the presence of their teammates, family and the Seton Hall community to honor what they have done for the program.
“It’s a blessing to see all my hard work come to fruition today,” Dowdy said of being honored at the Seton Hall vs. Georgetown game.
After nearly walking on his first year at Seton Hall, Dowdy had to pass on the opportunity to do so because of the rigorous schedule of a chemistry major.
“Mike Dowdy was going to walk on as a freshman,” Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. “He couldn’t get his class schedule and his classes for that major were right around practice time.”
Dowdy found a way to alter his schedule his junior year to make the commitment to be a member of the team despite his challenging academic life.
When Dowdy’s parents got the news, their excitement for their son was unmatched.
“He actually almost hit the ceiling cause he just jumped up and down like, ‘I can’t believe you’ve done it!,’” Annette Dowdy, Michael’s mother, said.
Dowdy still had to miss his fair share of classes in the process despite the changes.
“The next year he moved a couple class schedules and he missed a lot of class,” Willard said. “But he is a phenomenal young man with a great work ethic. He’s been a big part of what we’ve done here – he just doesn’t get the recognition.”
Dowdy, however, was never looking for convenience or recognition. He just wanted to play basketball.
“It’s my love for the game. I love what I do academically as well as athletically,” Dowdy said. “To me it’s nothing to put in the work to do both.”
His mother elaborated further on Dowdy’s dream of being a part of a collegiate team.
“This is something that he’s been dreaming of and he’s been working hard [since he was] a young boy,” Annette said. “He always wanted to play with a team not to just be a star, but just to be a part of any team.”
The other member of the team’s senior class, Jones, who had already played three years in the Atlantic Coast Conference, was a veteran of collegiate hoops who decided to use his final year of eligibility to join Seton Hall. He provided veteran savvy and a sense of stability at point guard.
“He’s been a great blessing. I think this is giving him a chance to show who he is as a person,” Willard noted. “He’s matured and he’s helped us.”
Jones, who had a tulmultuous tenure at Wake Forest, said he tried to be a leader for his younger SHU teammates.
“We got different ways that everybody leads. When it’s tough times or the game is close and the gym is going crazy, I try to keep everybody poised and together,” Jones said. “I just try to keep us together when things aren’t going right.”
Typically composed and collected, Jones could not help but embrace the emotional environment of Senior Night.
“It was definitely an emotional night. I’m from North Carolina so my parents don’t really get to come to the games much,” Jones said. “Just having them there –them being able to see all the love that everybody is showing me.”
In his final game at the Prudential Center, Jones appreciated having his family witness his last home contest with the teammates he now considers brothers.
“I won’t ever be coming through that tunnel again – it’s definitely sentimental,” Jones said. “More to me was stepping on the court the last time with my brothers.”
Seton Hall basketball has done so much for both Jones and Dowdy, that it’s only natural the two have returned the favor, and Willard appreciates that.
“I’ve been very blessed to have those two guys in the program,” the coach said.
Kyle Kasharian can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.