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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Fox's Jeff Goodman - Dorsey's made his mark at Memphis

Dorsey's made his mark at Memphis
by Jeff Goodman
Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for He can be reached at or check out his blog, Good 'N Plenty.

Updated: April 6, 2008, 9:12 PM EST

SAN ANTONIO - Joey Dorsey was signed, sealed and delivered.

For Auburn.

Dorsey actually signed a letter of intent with two schools back in 2003 coming out of Laurinburg Institute — Auburn and Memphis.

"I was close," said Memphis' senior big man.

He was beyond close. Then-Laurinburg coach Chris Chaney actually sat down with the rebounding machine — then known as Richard — and talked with him about what it meant to honor the verbal commitment he made to Memphis in late October.

You see, Dorsey had committed to John Calipari's Tigers. But he had a last-second change of heart in mid-November and was contemplating heading to Auburn.

"It was a crazy day," Chaney said. "He wanted to sign with Auburn. There was no doubt about it."

Chaney took him down to the school library and had a heart-to-heart.

"I just talked to him about being true to your word and doing what's best for him," Chaney said.

The Memphis staff had an inkling they might not get Dorsey, but wasn't aware it was that close.

"We knew there was a chance we were going to lose him," Memphis assistant Derek Kellogg said.

Dorsey made the right decision, judging by his success — and his team's success on the court. Dorsey and his teammates will face Kansas in the national title game on Monday night.

One year after he landed in Memphis, the likeable 6-foot-9, 260-pound Baltimore native got some reinforcements. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Shawne Williams, Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier arrived on campus.

"They put Memphis on the map," Dorsey said.

Dorsey is a self-admitted knucklehead who has had his share of trouble.

But he's one of those guys you want to pull for.

He grew up in a tough area in Baltimore and was actually tossed out of middle school for being what he calls "hyperactive."

"I don't even want to go back," Dorsey said. "It's not safe. They call it Iraq it's so bad. You can't even walk the streets."

He's made it rain (definition: tossing money into the air) at a club on Beale Street in Memphis. He's allegedly punched a couple of people and then ran like hell. On Saturday night, he sat there laughing and yelling at UCLA's prized center, Kevin Love, after CDR dunked on the big man.

With Dorsey, it's par for the course.

This is a kid who changed his name to Joey because he didn't feel as though Richard was a "basketball name."

He called Monday's game between arguably the two most athletic teams in the country a "pickup game."

He said that CDR's style is a "slow, old-man's game."

It's hard to dislike Dorsey. While his coach, John Calipari, seemingly has an ulterior motive for each and every comment, the athletic big man just says what's on his mind.

And you can't help but smile.

"Joey's matured over the years," Chaney said. "He's so likeable and just wants to make people laugh."

Dorsey will leave Memphis as Conference USA's all-time leading rebounder and his career record at the school is an amazing 126-25. That's more than 100 games over the .500 mark.

He grabbed 15 boards against Love and the Bruins on Saturday night, pushing his tournament total to 52 in five games.

"He's a beast," Dozier said. "He loves to talk trash and that's just who he is."

Kellogg remembers the first time he saw Dorsey at a prep school tournament in Rhode Island. Dorsey's gullet was hanging out of his uniform and he ended up squaring off at half-court with a player from Winchendon.

"He's really grown as a person and a player," Kellogg said. "Obviously, he's been a huge part of our success."

While CDR and freshman phenom Derrick Rose soak up most of the headlines, it wouldn't be possible without Dorsey.

"We'd never be where we are today if Joey didn't decide to come here," Tigers junior guard Antonio Anderson said. "There's no way."

And to think he was nearly written off.

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