Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 25 Player Countdown. Each day, we publish a new article counting down the 25 best players in the Atlantic 10 this past season, as voted by our staff. Today, we feature #21 Jeff Dowtin of Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Rams saw themselves as the best team in the Atlantic 10 Conference for a majority of the season. A key contributor to their success lied in the hands of Jeff Dowtin, a sophomore from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Dowtin’s season started off with a bang in URI’s opener against UNC Asheville: he shot six for eight from the field and finished with 13 points and four assists. Overall, Dowtin improved his scoring average from 5.5 points per game his freshman year to 9.6 points per game this past season. Looking ahead to 2018-19, first year head coach David Cox can put his trust in Dowtin as a player who will not only find ways to score but make other players around him better.
1/13/18 vs St. Bonaventure – In a battle between the top two teams in the conference, St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island squared off in Kingston, RI for the first of two meetings this past season in early January. At the half, the Rams led the Bonnies 42-39. In the second half, the Rams pulled away and they won the game by a final score of 87-73. Jeff Dowtin was one of the major reasons why the Rams trumped the Brown & White. He had 18 points on five of eight shooting, including a perfect six-for-six from the free throw line. The six-foot-three guard also dished out nine assists to help the Rams prevail.
2/20/18 at LaSalle – Four nights earlier, Rhode Island suffered its first Atlantic-10 loss at St. Bonaventure. The Rams did not want to suffer back-to-back losses, especially when they were ranked #18 by the AP and were slated to be a five-seed in NCAA Tournament projections. Rhode Island held a two point lead going into halftime 39-37. The Explorers, however, would not go away in the second half. The game ended up going into overtime and the Rams won the game 95-93 by the skin of their teeth. Jeff Dowtin, who only averaged 9.6 points per game this year, had his best game as a Ram scoring 25 points including 11 of 12 from the charity stripe. In his 38 minutes played, Dowtin dished out seven assists while only turning the ball over once. An underrated aspect of Dowtin’s game is his defense. His defense showed up in the stat sheet for this “trap” game against LaSalle, as he recorded three steals in the victory. Perhaps, this game at LaSalle was Dowtin’s best as a Rhode Island Ram.
11. Rhode Island suffered eight losses this season. In each loss, Jeff Dowtin failed to score 11 points. The only game in which Dowtin recorded double-digits, in which he scored ten, was against Duke in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Needless to say, when Dowtin has a solid night offensively, his contributions bring about a Rams win.
70.9%. Dowtin worked hard at improving his free-throw percentage for his sophomore year. In his freshman season, Dowtin was a 57.1% free throw shooter. This season, in big games down the stretch, Dowtin took advantage of the free-bees.
The 2017-18 Rhode Island Rams probably had the most talent out of anyone in the Atlantic 10. Playing alongside E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell, Jeff Dowtin served as a trustworthy third option for Dan Hurley. Going forward, with the departures of both Matthews and Terrell due to graduation, I expect Dowtin to take on the role as a team leader and one of the better players for the Rams. Next year, Jeff Dowtin could see himself as one of the ten best players in the Atlantic 10.
Previously: #22 Eric Williams Jr.