Auburn’s Dylan Cardwell says ‘God is clearly moving’ in his basketball career, his life

College students often keep rosters to stay on track, but rosters have taken on new meaning for Auburn University basketball player Dylan Cardwell. He saw the hand of God working through them.

“Twice I put things on a list, and both times God used those things to expand his kingdom,” the junior center said.

Cardwell made the first list as a high school student during the 201920 basketball season, writing 10 goals in his final year and thinking he had a surefire way to guarantee success.

“My first goal was to pray every day and get closer to God,” Cardwell recalled. “And I thought putting God at #1, he would bless 2 to 10.”

But what happened next didn’t seem like a blessing.

Change of plan

Cardwell, a native of Augusta, Georgia, played his first two years of high school in Evans, Georgia before his junior season at Oak Hill Academy in Wilson, Va., which bills itself as a home ground. training for future NCAA basketball players.

He returned to Georgia for his senior year. But due to Georgia High School Association transfer rules, he was deemed ineligible to play at McEachern High School in Powder Springs. The highly touted 6’11” college prospect was suddenly relegated to training with the team. He hasn’t played a single game this season.

Dylan Cardwell (44) passes over the defender during Auburn’s Dec. 4, 2021 game against Yale at Neville Arena. (Photo by Matthew Shannon/AU Athletics)

The situation taught him an important lesson.

Writing on Instagram at the time, Cardwell said: ‘My faith was being tested and I’ve grown a lot weathering this storm. … I have to remember that this is God’s plan for me. And His plans are much… bigger than mine.

spiritual realignment

Looking back on those times, Cardwell now says, “I had to realign my spiritual goals and really put God first. The situation was out of my control and it made me turn to him more and more every day.

“I got really, really closer to God because he took basketball away from me for a whole year. I couldn’t have gotten out of this situation without him.

A year on the sidelines only intensified Cardwell’s desire to play college basketball. But as the 2019 season progressed, coaching changes at its top two schools eliminated them from the competition. By December, he still had no plan, so he pushed back his engagement to the spring. In March, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and recruiting, like everything else, was put on hold.

During this time, Cardwell came into contact with an Auburn professor who challenged him to consider the big picture by committing to a college.

“He said, ‘Look at your instincts and go where you feel God is pushing you,'” Cardwell recalled.

Familiar with Auburn history and tradition through his uncle, Rodney Garner, defensive line coach for the college football team, Cardwell knew the meaning of family and Christian community. of the University.

“I realized this was where I wanted to be,” he said.

Bounce

Cardwell saw action in all 27 games of his first season, averaging 3.8 points per game and 3.6 rebounds. He was the only player in the nation that season to shoot more than 70 percent from the floor and led the team with 49 offensive rebounds. The business major was also named to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll.

Dylan Cardwell (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics)

In his second season, Cardwell played in all 34 games, averaging 3 points and 3 rebounds per game and contributed to the Tigers’ success on the field. The team won the SEC Regular Season Championship, and Cardwell wnamed to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and SEC Community Service Crew.

Last spring, Cardwell fully dedicated his life to Christ and was baptized. Despite his busy schedule, he makes time for a small group Bible study and attends Highland Church in Auburn.

And that’s where his second list comes in. After hearing a sermon on prayer from Jabez last fall, Cardwell felt prompted to write his own list of blessings to bring to God through prayer.

“I wrote ‘more opportunity, more success’, that kind of stuff, but then I wrote ‘more influence’ just to get five things,” he recalled. “But the last thing I cared about was influence. I don’t care how many social media ‘followers’ I have, but I put it there. And I started praying to it every days.

Fast forward to the Auburn vs. Georgia State football game on Sept. 25.

Sitting among a mass of discouraged students at the start of the game, Cardwell had the impulse to take off his shirt and wave it like a rally flag. It did not work.

“Nobody cared,” Cardwell said with a laugh.

But in the third quarter, he decided to try again, and as he waved his shirt in the air and started dancing, he saw himself on the jumbotron.

Cardwell continued to dance, cheered by the energized crowd, and when Auburn rallied to win the game, Cardwell became known as “the jumbotron guy”.

“Most people didn’t even know I played basketball,” he said. “But it had a domino effect for the rest of the year.”

Radiation

His social media following grew by 10,000 almost instantly, and since sharing Bible verses and stories from his faith journey there, his influence has grown as well. He now has over 26,000 followers on Instagram and shares a weekly devotional in addition to other thoughts and reflections.

Team chaplain Jeremy Napier said it was fun to watch Cardwell’s influence grow.

“I love seeing him use his platform to bring glory to God,” Napier said. “He has a real love for the Lord. My prayer for him, and for all those guys, is that they continue to do so as they walk humbly with the Lord (Micah 6:8).

Dylan Cardwell (left) assists Auburn University basketball chaplain Jeremy Napier during a baptism in the Jordan River. (Photo courtesy of Auburn Athletics)

Cardwell took to her Instagram account to chronicle her team’s recent 10-day trip to Israel, which included a baptismal service in the Jordan River.

“I felt like I was seeing the Bible come to life,” he recalls.

The trip to Israel is just one more affirmation that God is guiding him and will continue to guide him, Cardwell said.

“Two years ago I was lost, and now to be part of something so special, it’s crazy,” he said. “Being able to be baptized where Jesus himself was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River was an incredible opportunity and experience, and I was so blessed to be a part of it.

“I don’t know what will happen next, but God is clearly moving.”

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