With six scholarships likely to give in the 2006 class, Stanford Basketball is looking for a lot of things. One anxious need is a dynamic perimeter shooter and scorer. Trent Johnson will be hard-pressed to do better in his junior recruiting efforts than targeting Braham (Minn.) standout Isaiah Dahlman, who is a consensus Top 50 player in his class. In today's new Scout.com national rankings for the '06 crop, Dahlman is slotted as the #29 overall player and #6 small forward in America. The 6'6" 180-pound wing comes from great bloodlines, with his grandfather John Kundla a legendary player and coach. Kundla played for the Minnesota Gophers back in the 1930s, leading them all three years in scoring. He later served as an assistant coach and head coach for the school, but his greatest fame came as head coach of the fledgling Minneapolis Lakers. Kundla won four NBA championships in a five-year span (1950, 1952-54), coaching numerous Hall of Famers like Elgin Baylor and George Mikan.
Dahlman has a good four inches on his grandfather, though to measure up with the Minnesota legend's legacy, he has many years of achievement still ahead. Dahlman does have a strong start, though. He led the #2 seeded Braham Bombers to a stunning runaway upset of #1 seed Martin County West this past March for the Class 2A state championship, 73-47. The sophomore scorer racked up 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field, including 2-of-2 from deep, plus a prefect 10-of-10 at the free throw line. Dahlman added six boards, three steals and two assists. He was named to the All-Tournament team and was the only underclassman named All-State (Second Team). Maybe most impressive is how the youngster held the leadership reigns for his 31-2 squad as team captain. He averaged 27 points per game that superb sophomore season, along with six rebounds and four assists, while shooting 57% from the field.
Dahlman is a somewhat unique prospect because of his skills at his size. He has a strong handle and is equally adept at going right as well as to his left. The 6'6" wing is a sharp shooter but also has a quick first step to get to the basket, unafraid to attack smaller defenders off the dribble. He is an exciting athlete with a high basketball IQ, due in no small part to the tutelage of his grandfather. About the only concern you could offer for this 29th-ranked player is his strength, but Dahlman has already made strides in that area, while also improving his defense in the last year.
"He's a guy whose stock is on the rise," offers Scout.com National Recruiting Director Dave Telep. "He can play both perimeter positions, small forward and shooting guard, and he's a shooter. You combine his offensive attributes with his genes - his grandfather is a basketball Hall of Famer - and you've got a prospect."
"Offensively he's just a threat," Telep continues. "He's got size to move around on the perimeter and inside. Defensively he's yet to be determined. Can he guard shooting guards all the time? I don't know, but he's a matchup issue on the other end of the floor."
"I think I can guard any two-guard because of my quickness and athleticism," the recruit opines.
While there may be some earnest debate as to whether you project Dahlman as a 'two' or 'three' at the college level, most coaches simply know that the kid can play. He already has offers and heavy recruiting attention from every major conference in America. The Big 10 has poor blanket scholarships on his doorstep, but he also has reported offers stretching from Arizona to North Carolina. The list is in fact so long that Dahlman is currently working to narrow the field to a manageable subset.
"I'm trying to trim my list because recruiting is getting kind of crazy," the Braham HS junior allows. "I like Stanford, Michigan State, Iowa, North Carolina State, Boston College, Illinois, Connecticut, Syracuse and some others. I can't figure it all out yet. I'm just trying to trim to like 15 schools. Most of the schools talking with me have made offers."
Conspicuously absent from that stream of schools he pulled off the tip of his tongue were the home state Gophers. With Minnesota royalty in his blood, is the pull not compelling to stay close to home and continue the legacy?
"They are one of my schools, too," the recruit responds. "We'll have to see what happens. If they are the best school for me, then I'll go. If it's not the best fit for me, then I won't go."
Dahlman says that the fit he is looking for requires a conducive environment to his game, and the ability to win at the highest level.
"I'm looking for which school will have the best chance of winning a National Championship and where I can fit in the best," he declares. "I want to go somewhere that my style of play of fits and I don't have to change. It really doesn't matter how far away I go from home."
At this early stage, Dahlman professes a willingness to go to school on either coast. Realistically, it will be an uphill fight for Stanford to succeed against teams from the Midwest and East when they are pelting him with attention like this. We look to the recent history of this 2005 recruiting class, where Stanford beat the odds to reach the final five for Luke Zeller and the top two for Bobby Frasor - winning improbable battles but ultimately losing the war.
That being said, Dahlman is already developing a relationship with Cardinal head coach Trent Johnson. Colleges cannot yet place phone calls to high school junior recruits, but there is no restriction on conversations initiated in the other direction. Dahlman called Stanford just Monday, in fact.
"I really like Coach Johnson and I really like Stanford," the Minnesota native reveals. "It's a big time school, and I like that. They have some really good teams coming up; they're bringing in some good kids. They have a chance to be there for a National Championship - they'll be right there."
Though the two parties are still in the introductory stages of their relationship, Dahlman likes what he is learning from Johnson so far. "He is giving me background so I can get to know him - how they operate, what the players are like and what the school is like," the elite wing recruit relates. "They have a rich tradition at Stanford."
Though we are just in November, it is not too early to look ahead to the admissions equation for this prized prospect. He reports that he earned a 3.9 GPA his sophomore year at Braham High School last year. Dahlman estimates he will carry a 3.5 to 3.6 in this junior year, given some more challenging classes on his slate, including trigonometry, chemistry and honors English. He does not currently plan on taking a college board test (ACT or SAT) until the winter or likely the spring of his junior year. If that timeline holds, it could be dicey for Stanford. Dahlman does not yet have a handle on when he will want to make a college commitment, or when he would select the schools for his official visits, but the chronology of those targets relative to his test score will be important for Stanford to stay in the picture.
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