Dunn has himself to blame

The Chris Dunn era at Arizona was over before it began. In a day and age when players leave the school for more playing time or NBA riches, Dunn was a player who wanted to be here. Dunn messed up and now won't get to play at the school he wanted to star at. While it is easy to feel sorry for the young man, Dunn has no one to blame but himself.

Dunn could have been a great feel good story, small town boy goes unnoticed and falls into the lap of one of the nation's premier programs. Sadly, he won't get a chance to become a second Steve Kerr. Dunn leaves the program without playing a game and will be nothing more than a footnote in the annals of Arizona basketball.

Dunn won't even get a mention in the media guide. By redshirting he never became a letterman and won't be included in the list of Wildcats who wore the uniform. He'll be no more remembered than players like Tony Clark and Orlando Vega.

Frankly, Dunn just did not get it done. He had every opportunity to succeed and did not. Call it the folly of youth, call it irresponsibility, call it a harsh lesson, Dunn won't get a chance to play basketball at Arizona. Before Dunn even had a chance to see if his grades at Pima were good enough, his opportunity was lost. Lute Olson brought in Ivan Radenovic and all but ended Dunn's involvement with Arizona basketball.

On Friday he made it official.

"I can say that he is not a recruit," Olson told a small group of reporters following a press conference.

Dunn was ruled academically ineligible last August and had to withdraw from the University. Originally he was going to enroll at Cochise College in hopes of coming back to Arizona in a year, but instead he tried the riskier route of going to Pima and trying to get eligible by the semester break.

The coaching staff made Dunn no promises but did give him a conditioning program and told him to keep in contact so they could monitor his progress.

Oddly, Dunn had almost no contact with the staff. Sources close to the program have said that soon after the semester began Dunn had almost no contact with the staff. They had no idea how his grades were or how his classes were going. They had no idea if he was working out or what he was doing in terms of playing basketball.

Stranger still was the fact that Dunn had ample opportunities to communicate with the staff. Not only did Dunn remain in town, but he was seen almost every day at the Arizona student union having lunch. Although it is less than a ten minute walk from the union to McKale Center, Dunn did not attempt to let the coaches know what was going on.

Dunn burned a lot of bridges at the time he was originally ruled ineligible. Although he was nothing more than a practice player, Dunn's academic woes became apparent in his first semester. The coaches made the decision to leave him off road trips so that he could focus on academics, but he entered the summer needing a strong showing in summer school to not only stay eligible but stay enrolled. Obviously, he did not get things done over the summer.

What made matters worse is that the Cats were relying on Dunn after losing both Ndudi Ebi and Dennis Latimore unexpectedly.

Some wonder why the coaches didn't do more, but according to people within the athletic department, the staff did everything they could to help Dunn.

"He just dropped the ball," said one source.

According to friends, Dunn got caught up in the life of an Arizona basketball player. He enjoyed the fame and notoriety and everything that it brings. The small town kid from Hobbs, NM was a big deal on the UA campus and that became a distraction.

Initially Olson and the staff felt burned. They gave Dunn all of the tools to succeed and he still failed. Despite letting a lot of people down, Dunn was needed and had a glimmer of hope in returning. The Cats were thin on the inside and got even thinner when Isaiah Fox went down in the second game of the season. Dunn's chances got better because the Cats needed him.

Then Radenovic happened. The Cats had been looking at the Serbian since Dunn's initial troubles, but now the big man was a reality and Dunn's window of opportunity was slammed shut.

By all accounts Dunn was a good kid and a good ball player. He was bright, likable and had a load of potential. However, none of that mattered in the end. Olson has little patience and wasn't going to baby sit Dunn. He wasn't going to chase him down at Pima. Time and time again he made his expectations known and time and time again Dunn failed to live up to them.

What Dunn will do now is a mystery. Attempts to contact him have failed. He has many options and will likely play college ball, just not at the school he had hoped.

Not to long ago the question about Dunn was "how good can he be?" Now it has become "what could have been?"

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