Anyone who has followed Greg Dolan's basketball career knows the Williamsville South star loves a challenge.
Coach Gabe Michael presented one to him last summer. That's when Michael told his point guard, regarded as perhaps the best offensive facilitator in the area, that in order for the Billies to be really good during the 2017-18 season, Dolan would have to average roughly 30 points per game.
"He looked at me like I was crazy," Michael recently recalled of the conversation. "But when we started talking about the different ways Greg scores …"
Williamsville South's do-everything player realized what Michael was asking wasn't mission impossible.
Dolan embraced the idea of having to tweak his style, looking to score more for the good of the team much in the way he had embraced being the team's floor leader since his freshman year. He had more to give and did so without compromising other aspects of his game.
Mix in the senior's leadership skills and defensive prowess, and that's why Dolan is a slam-dunk choice as this season's Buffalo News Allen Wilson Player of the Year.
Dolan's selection headlines the 60th edition of the All-Western New York boys basketball team.
The All-WNY team and Player of the Year are selected by the Buffalo News in consultation with area coaches, officials and basketball aficionados.
While Dolan obviously joins a select group in being chosen player of the year, he joins an even more exclusive club in being a rare three-time first-team selection. Other boys basketball players to have earned All-WNY first-team honors thrice are Tony Kelly (Lackawanna, 1980-82), Jason Rowe (1994-96), Tim Winn (1994-96), Will Regan (2008-10) and Sterling Taplin (2012-14).
"I'm really honored to be a part of that small group of guys," said Dolan, who also earned fourth-team All-WNY honors as a freshman. "Six players in 60 years, that's something I'm so proud of and really blessed to be a part of with the amazing guys who have been very successful in college."
Dolan, who received several Division I offers but will attend Northfield Mount Herman Prep School next season, didn't end the season averaging 30 points per game but came close at a career-best 28.6 with South (19-4) playing its usual challenging schedule. He began the postseason as the leading scorer in Western New York at 31.1 ppg. He also averaged a career-best 6.9 assists per game. Dolan increased his points-per-game average by nearly 6.0 and assists by 2.6.
Dolan, who also averaged 8.8 rebounds per game, played his usual relentless defense, too. He recorded 7.1 steals per game as his ability to take the ball away from opponents fueled a Billies offense that loved to run teams into the ground.
Dolan's ability to get after it on defense led to the turnaround moment in his and South's season. With a 1-2 record and coming off an embarrassing home loss to St. Francis, the Billies traveled to St. Mary's to face always tough Bishop Timon-St. Jude at the annual ADPRO Public/Private Schools Challenge. Dolan personally made sure South started off on the right foot.
He had four steals, eight points and an assist during a 12-0 run to open the game. He scored 20 of his game-high 31 points in the opening half as the Billies won the contest. He also grabbed 10 boards and finished with six assists and six steals.
"He was unbelievable from the beginning (to finish)," Michael said of Dolan in that make-or-break game. "He really put the team on his back that day and it carried us through the rest of the season."
Dolan followed that effort with a career-high 47-point gem in a nonleague win over Cardinal O'Hara. Dolan scored 30 or more points eight times this season and went for 20 or more in 20 games. He sat out the fourth quarter of blowout wins nine times.
"He scored, led us in steals, assists, rebounds and blocks," Michael said. "He was unbelievable. I've never been around a kid who dominated every stat category like Greg and he was a team leader in the locker room. The way he carried himself, it was special. It was great for other kids to learn how he was as a leader."
Dolan will graduate as Williamsville South's all-time leader in points (2,019), rebounds (702), assists (471), steals (384) and wins (81 of his 96 career games).
He guided South to Section VI Class A titles in 2015 and 2016, and the program's only state final-four appearance in 2016.
If one still isn't convinced of what he meant to the Billies, remember the end of his final scholastic game – a 97-95 four-overtime loss to West Seneca West. In perhaps one of the most entertaining Section VI championship games ever played at Buffalo State Sports Arena, Dolan finished with 36 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. However, he fouled out of the only scholastic game of his career with under 2 minutes left. In his absence, West erased a four-point deficit as the Indians' press forced South into the vital mistake that more than likely would not have happened with Dolan on the floor. The turnover off an in-bound play with under a minute left led to West's go-ahead basket.
One obviously can't say for certain that the turnover wouldn't have happened if Dolan had been in the game. Still …
"When Greg fouled out of that game, the mood in the gym changed," Michael said. "It was as if everyone knew that was such a pivotal moment for that game. West Seneca West took advantage of it to their credit.
"He's that important (to us)."