After his eighth-grade year, North Little Rock senior Deion Dobbins knew that he would play basketball after high school. The realization of that dream happened Tuesday when Dobbins signed a letter-of-intent to continue his career at Mississippi Valley State.

Dobbins, a 6-foot-6 small forward, wanted to play basketball after high school ever since he started playing the sport which he remembers around the age of five. Though he had other options, signing with Mississippi Valley State gives Dobbins a chance to play at the Division I level.

“When I took my visit, it felt like home,” Dobbins said. “They lost everybody except for three guys, and I was told could help change the program.”

Dobbins said he could be used from the one through positions but could also expect to play everything but the five. He is also expected to come in and be a leader.

“He really, really matured from last year, and they noticed that,” North Little Rock Coach Johnny Rice said. “He has the athleticism of a Division I athlete and explosive guard skills, and they like that.”

Dobbins averaged 18.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. What made him invaluable was the leadership role he took on his senior year. Dobbins saw a need for that and decided to take on that role.

“My mom and I had a conversation, and she said I needed to step up and be a leader,” Dobbins said. “I made sure everyone was at practice and was serious, and they all bought into that.”

The result was the Wildcats won the 7A-Central conference and advanced to the state title game where they finished runner-up. After not making the playoffs Dobbins junior year, North Little Rock was not expected to be a contender for the state title.

“He earned the right to have some freedom offensively and did well,” Rice said. “He plays hard and is a smart teammate. His teammates like him, and he doesn’t have a bad day, is fun to be around and very coachable.”

Attending North Little Rock Schools his entire school career, Dobbins experienced the ups and one low point during his high school career. As a sophomore, he played with Kevaughn Allen, who is now at Florida, and was a member of the 7A state championship team. Then as a junior, the Wildcats didn’t qualify for state, but advanced to the title game his final year.

Dobbins plans to major in criminal justice and wants to be a detective after his basketball career is finished. He is already planning on playing overseas if the NBA draft doesn’t work out.

“I am super proud of him, and he has a real opportunity if he takes advantage of it,” Rice said. “I am super excited for him. The championships are nice but the biggest thing is seeing our players having the opportunity to play at the next level.”