The Humble Duck
Oregon-bound Dominic Artis is ready to make his mark on the Pac-12.
by Eldon Khorshidi | @eldonadam
On January 16, when Findlay Prep (NV) faced off with then-No.1 Simeon Academy (IL), the game was billed as a matchup of two of the country’s top players—Arizona commit Brandon Ashley and Simeon super junior Jabari Parker. Ultimately, the Pilots dethroned the Simeon Wolverines, 75-50, and Ashley and Parker were both solid, but it was Oregon-bound point guard Dominic Artis who stole the show for Findlay, posting 21 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds en route to earning Player of the Game honors.
Five days later, Findlay defeated Bishop Gorman and SLAM diarist Shabazz Muhammad. Again, all eyes were on Ashley and fellow big man Anthony Bennett, but again, it was the Pilots’ other-other guy, Artis, who led the way, scoring 21 points and dishing 7 assists.
“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder,” says Artis, in a humble and intelligible manner. “With my lack of height, all I hear is, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ I keep the doubters in the back of my mind, because they’re the ones that fuel me, that make me go harder.”
See, it’s easy to miss Dominic Artis. Standing at a mere 6-feet and lacking elite speed, Artis has been overlooked—literally—for most of his career. But by developing a crafty handle, reliable high-arching floater and steadily improving three-point shot, he has offset his physical shortcomings, and has slowly molded himself into one of the nation’s top point men.
Artis was born in San Francisco, but has bounced around the map—attending schools in Richmond, CA, and Henderson, NV, and currently living in Oakland—in pursuit of developing his game and ultimately achieving his dream of playing basketball at the highest level. Last week, we caught up with Dominic to discuss a plethora of topics, from his uber-talented Findlay team to his intense workout regimen to his goals and expectations at Oregon, and much more.
SLAM: What’s up, Dominic? How’s your summer going?
Dominic Artis: What’s going on, man. My summer’s been good—just working hard everyday.
SLAM: What have you been up to?
DA: Monday through Friday, I’m doing something. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I do a weight workout, followed by a basketball workout. On Tuesdays, I do a morning workout on the beach, then do an afternoon weight workout with my trainer. And on Thursdays I usually go run hills. I’ll be working out until June 25, then I go up to Oregon.
SLAM: You’re lifting weights a bunch. Are you trying to gain weight or just get stronger?
DA: Pretty much both. I’m just trying to put on weight right now, and I’m getting stronger in the process. Right now I’m at 187 pounds, and my goal is to find a weight I can stay athletic at, but still feel big in my own way.
SLAM: Do you have a target weight?
DA: I’m trying to stay between 185 and 190.
SLAM: You received scholarship offers from several schools, including fellow Pac-12 schools California and UCLA. What separated Oregon from the rest?
DA: All the schools that recruited me were great, but I think the relationship I built with Coach [Dana] Altman made it an easy decision for me. From the start, he was real with me, telling me what I needed to improve on and how the program would be run. I also really like the style that he plays; his offenses are point guard oriented, in the sense that he lets guards play pick-and-roll and find guys in their spots.
SLAM: You had originally committed to UCLA, but then decommitted last October. What happened?
DA: Nothing really “happened”, per se, just the more I thought about my decision, the more I realized I hadn’t fully thought it through. I decided I would have a better opportunity at Oregon, to have the ball in my hands and run the show.
SLAM: Did Kyle Anderson’s commitment to UCLA affect your decision?
DA: Not really. Kyle’s my boy, we’re good friends. My decision was completely independent of him choosing UCLA. I just felt like I could play better at Oregon. And I guess with him and Larry Drew over at UCLA, it kind of makes sense on paper, too.
SLAM: I guess you’ll have a little extra motivation when you play UCLA…
DA: For sure. It’s definitely a game that I want to win. There’s going to be a lot of talk about that game, and I know they’re gonna be loaded next year, so I can’t wait.
SLAM: Was staying on the West Coast a big factor in your decision?
DA: My preference was to stay out West, but I was really open to anything. I was supposed to take visits to Kansas and Memphis, but I just fell in love with Oregon.
SLAM: After your junior year of high school, you decided to transfer to Findlay Prep. Why’d you make that move?
DA: Leaving for Findlay was a big decision for me. Coming off my junior season, I felt Findlay would get me ready for college basketball better than anywhere else. Everybody there is so focused, so hard working and dedicated to improving.
SLAM: How was it playing at such a renowned school, that has a legacy for producing some of the best players in the country, in particular point guards? Cory Joseph, Avery Bradley, Myck Kabongo, Jorge Gutierrez; the list goes on…
DA: It’s great to be part of such a family. Some of the guards that coach [Michael Peck] produced are at places that I’m trying to get to. Corey, Avery, all those guys. It just makes you realize how official the program really is, and makes you motivated to follow in their footsteps. Definitely a huge part of playing at Findlay is representing for the guys that came before you.
SLAM: Between yourself, Winston Shepard (San Diego State), Brandon Ashley (Arizona) and Anthony Bennett (UNLV), your team had some remarkable firepower this year. What was it like to play on such a talented squad?
DA: It was real nice, man, basically a point guard’s dream. Playing with those guys made my job a lot easier—especially Bennett. You could just throw the ball near the rim and he was going to somehow come down with it. Just getting in the paint and knowing you have three guys that can finish consistently made it a lot easier for me.