Chris Dunn is the newest Wildcat

Back in September Chris Dunn was considering an offer from Denver. This spring he was deciding between UC-Irvine and Loyola-Marymount. Today the 6-7 Dunn is an Arizona Wildcat and he had to decline a scholarship from Final Four participant Oklahoma. It's amazing what a difference a few months makes

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It is almost a too good to be true story. A little known player gets scooped up by a premier program when the team happens to play a tournament game in his home state. The Wildcats were practicing at La Cueva high school in Albuquerque, the alma mater of former Wildcat A.J. Brammlet. Brammlet's former coach recommended Dunn.

"They saw me on video and liked my game and liked what I brought to the table," Dunn said.

Dunn turned down a scholarship to Denver in the fall because he thought he could work harder and get a better offer. Little did he know that two of the best programs in the country would be competing for his services.

"I thought I could work harder and step up my game," Dunn confessed. "I never imagined that schools like Arizona and Oklahoma would be interested. I was just looking for something a little better."

When the Arizona coaches called it was a great day for Dunn. Suddenly the West Coast conference was a thing of the past and the Pac-10 and Big-12 were in the picture.

"It is what everybody dreams of," Dunn said. "Everybody dreams of playing for an elite program."

Dunn had already visited Denver, the two California campuses and former New Mexico coach Dave Bliss' Baylor Bears when the Wildcats offered a trip. Dunn didn't have to think twice. Even though Oklahoma was offering a visit, Dunn remained firm on his commitment and headed to Tucson.

"On my visit the coaches and players opened their arms to me. It was like I was already part of the team," said Dunn. "I liked it the most of all the schools I visited."

Dunn was a center in high school averaging 12.5 rebounds and over four blocks a game. He spent most of the time with his back to the basket but got to face up enough and is confident in his ability to play on the perimeter. His perimeter skills and ball handling ability are good enough that Wildcats coaches have discussed him playing a combo forward position, splitting time between the wing and the post.

Dunn sees himself in the mold of a Daryan Selvy of Oklahoma, while some have told him that he reminds them of a Marcus Camby or Rasheed Wallace. He doesn't dismiss the comparisons but admits, "those are big shoes to fill."

Dunn has a solid pedigree. Both of his uncles excelled at his high school and his uncle Jeff Taylor played in the NBA and is now a certified trainer who has helped him prepare both physically and mentally for the season. His uncle Vince is still an assistant at the school and has also been a huge influence.

Maybe more impressive than his bloodlines is the fact that he has played on three straight state championship teams, an accomplishment that Dunn feels will aid him at Arizona.

"Going there (Arizona) next year I'll be surrounded by winners and I bring a winning attitude to the team."

Dunn has his work cut out for him. Incumbent small forward starter Luke Walton returns and Dunn is joined in the recruiting class by well-regarded wing Andre Iguodala. With his thin build Dunn is probably not ready for the pounding he'll receive in the post. He knows he has some work to do, in fact when I called for the interview his coach Russ Gilmore had to pull him out of the weight room.

Whether he makes an impact this season or down the line, Dunn is a testament to hard work and is happy to be a part of Arizona basketball.

"It feels good," said the newest Wildcat.

 


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