As we approach the 2015-16 college basketball season, you will no doubt be getting familiar with the name Kris Dunn of Providence. He has the chance to really captivate the nation, as his blend of skills, athleticism and intensity is really second to none. Yeah, he was was good last season, but you likely haven’t seen anything yet.
Let’s put it this way. Dunn could be to college basketball as to what Leonard Fournette is to college football.
Yeah, I said it.
And I’m standing by it it.
When you are a threat to go for a triple-double every night you step on the court (for reference, Dunn achieved the feat last January against DePaul), you should have the spotlight shone on you. Dunn is simply a scintillating and breathtaking basketball player to watch. If you need reminding, Dunn was last season’s Big East co-Player of the Year, as well the conference’s co-Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 15.6 points, 7.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game.
That’s some astonishing across-the-board numbers. Those are numbers of a fantasy basketball superstar. And he does all this on the college level.
Predictably, Dunn was named the preseason Big East Player of the Year at last week’s Big East media day.
Providence's Kris Dunn Named BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year http://t.co/kajh3Jn6n5
— Providence Friars (@PCAthletics) October 14, 2015
Don’t be surprised if Dunn picks up additional national hardware (as in National Player of the Year honors) this season. He’s that good.
Dunn is not about the stats or the glory, though. He just wants to win. Last season head coach Ed Cooley’s Friars had themselves a good season, going 22-12 overall 11-7 in the Big East. Providence would get bounced by Dayton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, though.
That all said, winning will prove to be much tougher for Dunn and the Friars this season, as Providence loses a lot of firepower from last year with the departures of LaDontae Henton (all-Big Eat First Team), Carson Desrosiers, Tyler Harris and Paschal Chukwu.
Still, Dunn has confidence in his teammates like Ben Bentil, Junior Lomomba, Kyron Cartwright, Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock. As they learn and develop, Providence can conceivably pick up where they left off last season. The aforementioned players will be taking on much bigger roles this season and how they complement Dunn will be vital in the Friars’ quest to get back to the Big Dance in March.
Dunn relayed the confidence he has in his teammates while at media day.
“Once you starting doing that (thinking about the pressure), you start doing too much and then it starts affecting the team” said Dunn. “You got to believe in your teammates as they believe in you, and I believe in my teammates.”
Dunn said it has been an adjustment at practice thus far as the young team catches up to speed.
“(Practice) has been a learning process,” said Dunn. “We got a lot of young freshman and (sophomores). Coaches have been doing a lot of stopping and teaching the guys. I have no problem with that. As long they feel comfortable and confident in the game, we should be fine.”
Even if the secondary players on Providence don’t reach their full potential, Dunn is one of those transcendent type of players who can carry a team on his back if he had to (despite what he says otherwise). You never know, maybe this year’s Friars could be the next “Danny and the Miracles.” For those who are foreign to that, “Danny and the Miracles” were the Danny Manning-led Kansas Jayhawks who won the 1988 NCAA Championship.
Dunn said he is confident he can get the Friars back to the NCAA Tournament. At Big East media day, coaches voted Providence as the fifth best team in the conference. As it stands right now, that likely makes them a bubble team.
“Definitely,” Dunn said when asked if the Friars can get back to the NCAA Tournament. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in my team.”
Video: Big East and Providence star Kris Dunn discusses reason for coming back to school. pic.twitter.com/jF78NFhHLN
— Today's U (@TodaysUSports) October 14, 2015
And back he is. Dunn could have taken his talents to the NBA in the offseason, where he most likely would have been a first-round draft pick. But he liked college too much and enjoyed his relationship with head coach Cooley.
“It’s phenomenal,” Dunn said of his bond with Cooley. “Since I was a freshman, we have been close to one another. He loves to laugh; I love to laugh. He’s goofy and what not. We don’t talk about basketball (much). We talk about other things because the relationship is actually real.”
As Dunn presumably enters his final season with the Friars, he has learned a lot through the ups and downs he has encountered through the years playing in the Big East.
“(Playing in the Big East) has taught me how to be tough,” said Dunn. “There’s a lot of teams out there that are tough, and they are going to get after you. Every game you have to bring your hard hat and your A-game.”
As he tries to lead the Friars with an obvious bulls eye on his back, all the while trying to show the NBA what he is made of, Dunn has the world in the palm of his hands this season. Look for him to seize the opportunity and be an absolute joy to watch.