Kris Dunn: College Basketball Star, College Graduate onto the NBA

Just about 14 months ago to the day, Kris Dunn made a bold decision to return to Providence College for another season with the Friars. Dunn, finally healthy after two shoulder surgeries forced him to miss a total of 44 games his first two seasons, was coming off a breakout season that culminated in Providence’s second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, something the program hadn’t done since Rick Barnes took his first two Providence teams to the Big Dance in 1989 and 1990. Dunn was also named the Big East’s co-Player of the Year and co-Defensive Player of the Year, a First Team All-Big East performer, Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American, Second Team All-American and Third Team All-American. In short, Dunn had accomplished a ton and no one would have blamed him for taking his talents to the NBA. But Dunn wasn’t quite finished at Providence, both on the court and in the classroom.

Dunn’s stated goals in returning were to improve as a player so that he would be ready to contribute in the NBA, lead Providence to an NCAA Tournament victory — something Providence hadn’t accomplished since 1997 — and get his degree in order to make his family proud and be a good role model for his younger sisters. Dunn delivered. His 2015-16 season saw improvements in his game and Providence got that first NCAA Tournament win of the Ed Cooley Era with their thrilling, last second win against USC. His story has been widely told in both print and video and it is an inspiring one. I have no doubts that he lived up to his hope of being a good role model to his younger sisters. Images of Dunn walking across the stage in an arena where he had some of his most amazing basketball accomplishments to receive his diploma from Providence President Fr. Brian Shanley will be a lasting one around Friartown, especially since the people in Friartown are the ones that know Dunn well. Some of the reason is because of what Dunn did on the court — 1,214 points (28th), 552 assists (3rd), 208 steals (4th), 486 rebounds — but there’s also plenty off the court that never got much attention, that’s how he wanted it. 

The Undefeated
The Undefeated

Dunn was a role model, which can sometimes take on this abstract meaning that people — somewhere — look up to him. In Dunn’s case, he took a more hand’s-on approach in his direct community. Whether it was something simple like taking a picture with young fan, or something with no cameras around like speaking regularly with a pair of inner-city Providence high school students he met during a school visit to make sure they were keeping their grades up. There are also countless examples of signing autographs for anyone who wanted one, even fans who heckled him while eating.

Kris Dunn young fans

It was recently announced that Dunn would be part of the adidas family for shoes and apparel, an important step for a high draft pick to lock up. In an article for The Vertical, Nick DePaula said “Dunn could emerge as the most marketable player [in this year’s draft].” Part of that is his basketball acumen that will likely make him a household name early in his career in the NBA. Another part is the harrowing tale of his upbringing that Friar fans know like chapter and verse, by now. The other, more intangible factor is that Dunn is a good person. He says the right things. He does the right things. He’s good in front of a camera and he’s even better off it.


Providence College should be proud to call Kris Dunn an alumnus and not because he’s about to become an instant millionaire when he is selected high in the 2016 NBA Draft on Thursday night. Providence College should be proud because their mission worked and Dunn thrived off the court, as much as on. He matured during his four years in Friartown and now heads into the world, diploma in hand, with a chance to fulfill his dreams when he hears his name called by Adam Silver on the stage of the Barclays Center. Kris Dunn: future NBA star, college graduate.

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One thought on “Kris Dunn: College Basketball Star, College Graduate onto the NBA”

  1. Like the iconic Sinatra tune” I did it my way”. Finally he is going to get the payback he most richly deserves. Congratulations Kris Dunn!

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