One of the most important road trips the Stanford men’s basketball team will have made this season never shows up on the schedule, in the team’s record or total miles traveled.
In September, the Cardinal gathered around to support one of their own after junior forward Dwight Powell lost his mother. The coaches and several players flew to Toronto for the funeral.
Jacqueline Weir died on Sept. 13 in Boston after a short fight with cancer, three months shy of her 54th birthday. Powell’s coaches visited the hospital in the Boston area, where Weir worked and lived. And Stanford received permission from the NCAA to fly the players from Powell’s recruiting class to Canada to be there for him at the memorial.
“It was important, for sure,” Powell said. “My friends in my life are my family. The team is my family, so it meant a lot for them to come out there. I have a really good support group in Toronto as well, some guys I played with in high school.”
Coach Johnny Dawkins realizes the importance of everyone supporting Powell, an only child attending college so far from home. Dawkins already had a close-knit group on the reigning NIT champions, who hope last season’s special run is only a preview of bigger things for the program this March in the NCAA tournament. Stanford hasn’t been since 2008, and not yet under fifth-year coach Dawkins.
Powell will be an integral part in getting Stanford there. Keeping him in the right frame of mind as he continues to mourn his mother has been a joint effort.
Dawkins considers the trip to Toronto one that showed Powell just how much support — and how many brothers — he has within his own locker room, and on campus.
“Absolutely,” Dawkins said. “That’s what it’s about. It was very unfortunate what happened to his mom, and very sudden. It really puts it in perspective when something happens to a young man and a family.”
The Cardinal (6-3) are finishing up their annual two-week break for final exams before returning to the court to host UC Davis on Saturday, the first of four remaining nonconference games ahead of Pac-12 play. Stanford is picked fourth in the conference.
Powell is averaging 14.2 points per game, second to Chasson Randle’s 14.7, while also pulling down 6.9 rebounds.
“This is the best place for me to be right now. First of all, it’s a different country, so I don’t even have too much family except for the team,” Powell said. “I can’t really think of anyone else I’d rather lean on right now than my teammates. Regardless of what goes on, they can take my mind off things. They can put my mind on the things I need to think about sometimes and help me talk things out, just be there.
“I feel very lucky to have the team that I have, just for that reason. It also translates onto the court, that closeness, that trust.”