The legend of 'Piggy' Dumas grows with each bucket
Before Warren Wilson College senior Danasia Dumas even stepped on the floor for her final college basketball season, one thing was already certain.
“She’s a legend,” said fifth-year head coach of the the Owls Robin Martin-Davis. “She is putting up numbers at Warren Wilson that nobody will ever match; it’s a feat you never hear of.”
In just three seasons Dumas, or “Piggy” as she’s known by those closest to her, eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her career. She was presented with a ball commemorating the milestone before opening the season against crosstown rival Montreat College on Oct. 27.
Dumas arrived in Swannanoa in 2015, but her road to basketball glory started when she was a little kid in Mt. Gilead. Her father, Garrett, would take her to the local court where he played pick-up games.
“I used to take her because I always played basketball,” he said. “She was really competitive at a young age and she always felt like because I was on the court she should be on the court.”
Piggy shared her dad’s love for the game immediately, according to her mother, Natasha Thomas.
“I’ve always called her ‘my little Kobe,’” she said in reference to the former Laker great and third all-time leading NBA scorer. “I knew when her dad gave her the ball that she had a gift.”
Thomas encouraged her daughter to aggressively pursue her passion.
“I was hard on her when it came to basketball,” Thomas said. “I knew she was above average and I knew what she was capable of.”
By 9, Piggy was traveling two hours east to Fayetteville to play travel ball and receiving the support of those closest to her.
“Basketball was like a family thing,” Thomas said. “It was everybody working together to help her get better.”
It wasn’t long before her daughter’s drive and work ethic began to set her apart from other players on the court.
“I never allowed her to blame anyone for a loss; I would always ask her if she gave 100 percent," Thomas said. "Eventually it turned into a situation where she was consistently working on fixing whatever was wrong with her game."
If Piggy struggled shooting the ball one night, "she'd be out there shooting 300-350 shots while I was outside with her," Thomas said.
On the court, despite her diminutive stature, Piggy embraced a physical style of basketball, according to her dad.
"When she was around middle school age, I would make her sit off to the side while all the older men were playing," Garrett said. "She would get mad because she wanted to be out there with us. She was just as good as all of us."
She would often find her way onto the court where she learned to finish shots near the rim with larger defenders around her. By the time she entered middle school, she had made a name for herself around her hometown.
"Her first year they lost three or four games but her second year they went undefeated," Thomas said. "People would literally walk up to me in the store to talk about her."
By the time Piggy stepped through the door at West Montgomery High School, Henry Panzer, who retired in 2015, knew he was getting a special player.
"I was amazed with her from the get-go," Panzer said the player who would go on to score over 1,500 points for the Warriors. "The first thing you notice is her size, but then you see her skills, hustle, knowledge of the game and realize she can do everything."
Piggy was usually the first to arrive to practice and would stay after and play against the boys until their practice began, Panzer said.
"She really loves the game," her former coach said. "She's a really special player and I'm proud of everything she's accomplished."
The girls team at West Montgomery struggled in the years prior to Piggy's arrival, according to Panzer. As a senior she led the team to a 22-1 record while averaging 20.5 points per game.
Piggy signed with Averett University in Virginia out of high school, but ultimately decided that she wanted to be a part of the program Martin-Davis was building at Warren Wilson.
"I loved coach when I met her," Piggy said. "I came to stay out here for a weekend and I loved what she was doing here and the girls on the team were great too."
As a freshman Piggy averaged 22.2 points per game and was named a first-team All-American in the USCAA. She picked up 1,000 career points as a sophomore and earned All-American honors as a sophomore and junior too.
The "Piggy Dumas Era" at Warren Wilson has included the three best seasons in the program's history.
"Piggy changed the future of this program," Martin-Davis said. "The season before she got here we had 9 wins, and since then we've had 17, 17 and 20. We have a winning program here and players want to be a part of that."
As younger players arrive, they quickly learn from the team's undisputed leader what it takes to win basketball games.
"She's seen her share of struggles," Martin-Davis said. "But she trusts what we're doing and she takes it upon herself to be a relentless worker. She spends all off-season adding another piece to her game every year."
As the team's only returning senior this season, Piggy will have to work hard to take the Owls on another deep run in the postseason, where she scored her 2,000th point last year.
"She knows what she has to do and she simply goes out there and gets it done," Martin-Davis said. "That's how she's managed to have such an amazing career."
Thomas said she knew her daughter would have a good college career, but "never dreamed she'd score over 2,000 points."
Her former high school coach agrees.
"I always knew she was a scorer, but I don't think anyone could've known how many points she'd score in college," Panzer said. "There are not many people capable of doing what Piggy has done."
Although the Owls fell 84-69 to the Cavaliers to open the season, Piggy put up 36 points and remains optimistic about what this season has in store for her team. She'd like to get to 2,500 career points, which is well within her reach if she stays healthy.
But bringing a national championship trophy back to Swannanoa is what she'd like more than anything.
"I'm really glad that I made the decision to come to Warren Wilson College," Piggy said. "I've been able to accomplish a lot here and grow as a person. I'd like to return the favor by winning a national championship before I leave."