Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Jay Wright: Kris Dunn is Good For College Basketball & The Best Player in the Nation
The College basketball season isn’t even a month old, yet the debate over National Player of the Year is already starting.
Providence redshirt junior point guard Kris Dunn has expectedly filled up stat sheets, most recently with 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds Wednesday night against Hartford his second career triple-double.
Michigan State senior forward Denzel Valentine has also put up giant numbers, averaging 20.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 8.4 assists for the third-ranked, unbeaten Spartans, while LSU freshman sensation Ben Simmons has also made a case. The 6-foot-10 Australian’s latest big showing saw him put up 43 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and three steals Wednesday night against North Florida. The Tigers have struggled, but Simmons has not as he is averaging 19.9 points, 14.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists in seven games.
There are a lot of games left to be played this season, but at least one Big East head coach very familiar with Dunn is impressed.
“You see what’s going on with Jahlil Okafor right now in Philadelphia and I think that’s just a product of being 19 years old and being out in the real world,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright told SNY.tv on the 4 Quarters Podcast. “He’s underage, he can’t get into bars, he shouldn’t be in bars and he’s playing professional basketball, hanging out with 30-year-old men.
“I think Kris being in college basketball is really good for the game and I think it’s going to pay off dividends for him. I think he’s the best player in the country, I really do.”
Wright comparing Dunn and Okafor is interesting because if Dunn’s college career had gone differently, maybe he would have been out in the real world at a younger age.
The top-rated point guard in the Class of 2012 by Rivals, Dunn had his first two seasons at Providence marred by shoulder troubles, for which he redshirted during the 2013-14 season. Dunn was fully healthy for the first time last season, proving his worth as a do-it-all point guard for head coach Ed Cooley.
Projected as high as No. 13 in the 2015 NBA Draft by DraftExpress, Dunn surprised seemingly everyone by coming back to Providence for his redshirt junior season. With Dunn playing well and the Friars ranked 23rd at 7-1, with the one loss to Michigan State at the Wooden Legacy on Sunday, Dunn is currently slotted at No. 6 in 2016 by DraftExpress.
If Dunn does indeed enter the 2016 draft, he will do so at the age of 22 and with four years of college under his belt.
“Kris Dunn, really, should probably be in the NBA right now,” Wright said, “and I’m glad he’s not because it’s good for college basketball and I think it’s going to be good for him.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.