Bloomington – Don't count high-major college coaches among those who are still unfamiliar with Pendleton Heights sophomore guard Kellen Dunham.
While the likes of D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Ron Patterson have been tip-of-the-tongue names virtually since they set foot on a high school basketball court, Dunham is quickly elevating himself to the high-major prospect level as well. A 6'4" sharp shooter who has grown four inches in the last year, Dunham is averaging 17.0 points per game for Coach Brian Hahn's team, which is off to a 9-4 start this season.
"You always saw his ability to be able to shoot the ball exceptionally well," said Hahn. "You kind of wondered if he'd be a low-major, mid-major kid. But as he started grow, that's excited a lot of people at the next level."
While Dunham has yet to receive his first scholarship offer, a slew of schools have been expressing interest. Hahn said Indiana, Illinois, Xavier, Butler, Michigan, Ball State, Evansville and Wright State are among those who have made contact.
"A lot of programs are still getting to know him," Hahn said. "As they get to know more about him, I think as we head into next spring, people will start putting things on the table."
Thanks to his 1 ½ seasons working with Dunham, Hahn in convinced that as college coaches learn more about Dunham their interest will be piqued even more. While Dunham's shooting ability might be the first thing that catches their eye, a closer look reveals plenty of other enticing attributes.
"With Kellen it's real simple – he's an old-school gym rat," Hahn said. "He's in the gym everyday as much as he can be in there. He works his tail off when he's in there, and he's not just shooting around. He really works on his game, works on his ball handling, works on his mid-range, his long range. He puts in the time."
College coaches, in turn, are starting to put in some time on Dunham by making contact with Hahn and by coming by Pendleton Heights' basketball games. Indiana is among those programs. Hahn said Dunham was in Bloomington for both of IU's elite camps last off-season, and that the entire Pendleton Heights team was in town for IU basketball's team camp. That's given Dunham an opportunity to become familiar with the IU staff as well as the Bloomington campus.
"He's spent a lot of time on campus, spent some time with Coach (Tim) Buckley and Coach Crean," Hahn said. "He also was able to go down for a workout and attend the Midnight Madness practice. So he's made a lot of contact with Indiana and gotten to know their coaches. He's really enjoyed that. That's exciting for him, and he's excited they've shown that interest.
"At this point, he's really excited about the interest IU has shown."
While IU's interest has been well received by Dunham, Hahn said it hasn't necessarily been a lifelong dream of his to play at any particular school, including IU. That's not because of an affinity for another program, but the fact he's been more of a fan of the college game as oppose to a particular program.
"Coach Crean and I talked about that, how Kellen is a part of kind of that lost generation of kids in Indiana where Indiana basketball just became another team," Hahn said. "I know Coach Crean is committed to trying to turn that back around, to where Indiana basketball is synonymous with what basketball means in this state."
Dunham, meanwhile, appears to be the type of player that the state of Indiana has long been known for producing. An excellent shooter who spends countless hours working on his game, Dunham has long been motivated by the idea of having an opportunity to play at the next level.
"It's a passion to him," Hahn said. "He's dedicated himself to getting an opportunity to playing major Division I basketball. That's a definite goal of his, and something he's committed to, something that keeps him motivated."
The early attention from college coaches suggests Dunham has an excellent chance of making that a reality. But Dunham also knows there's still two and half years before that can become a reality, so he's not getting too caught up in some of the early interest that he's garnered.
"He loves to play so much, he doesn't get caught up in hype or this school or that school.," Hahn said. "He wants to play, compete, and be as good as he can possibly be. That focus helps keep him grounded.
"He'll get his chance to play as long as he makes sure he's good enough to play. So his focus is on getting better every day."
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