Sometimes the best laid plans go awry, but Andre Drummond and Kris Dunn had concocted a seemingly can’t-miss dream scenario.
The Connecticut Basketball Club teammates would enroll at an elite prep school and then take their talents to the University of Connecticut.
It was July 2011, and coaches from top college programs had descended on Las Vegas for the adidas Super 64 to evaluate Drummond, a five-star center and the No. 2-ranked prospect in the country, and other elite prospects in the Class of 2011, including No. 1 recruit Shabazz Muhammad and eventual tournament MVP, Marcus Smart.
As coaches crammed into the gym at Desert Pines High School to catch a glimpse of the freakishly athletic Drummond, it was Dunn who generated buzz for his ability to penetrate, get to the basket and facilitate the offense.
Dunn was the game’s highlight player in a marquee match-up of premier big men Drummond and Arizona Wildcat commit, Kaleb Tarczewski. Dunn also sparked a second-half surge in a win over Texas Longhorn recruit Cameron Ridley’s Houston Hoopstars.
Following the tournament, the combo guard jumped to No. 26 in the MaxPreps recruiting rankings, and he and Drummond started to activate their plan.
Dunn had already announced his intention to leave New London High School in Connecticut to enroll at Wilbraham & Monson Academy, but there was one caveat unbeknownst at the time: Drummond would be joining him at the Massachusetts prep school.
Drummond was in a unique situation. He had graduated with the class of 2011 but had not yet committed to playing college ball. There was speculation he would enroll at a prep school for a postgraduate year and then declare for the NBA Draft.
On August 10, Drummond announced that he would be attending Wilbraham & Monson, but it was short-lived. Less than two weeks later, Dunn said that he would be returning to New London for his senior year.
Drummond subsequently enrolled at Connecticut, but it was a joint decision to divert from the plan.
“It was actually on the same day,” Dunn said of their decision. “We kind of talked it out and just did what was best for one another.”
Drummond added, “It was kind of silly trying to [force playing together]. He went his separate way, and I went mine. But that’s my best friend, no matter what school he went to.”
Dunn committed to Providence College in the fall and was a 2012 McDonald’s All-American Game selection. Drummond, meanwhile, went the one-and-done route and was drafted ninth overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2012 draft.
While Drummond was adjusting to life in the pros, Dunn struggled to find his form during his first two seasons with the Friars. He was limited his freshman season while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery; and as a sophomore, he played in just four games before re-injuring the shoulder.
Following a breakout junior year in which he was named Big East Player of the Year and considered a likely first-round NBA draft pick, Dunn elected to return to Providence.
In his fourth and final year as a collegian, Dunn repeated as Big East Player of the Year. Coincidentally, Drummond was named an NBA All Star in his fourth pro season.
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Theirs is a tale of two star players. The one-and-done Drummond is establishing himself as one of the premier big men in the NBA, while Dunn is viewed as a potential lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Dunn embarked on what is now considered a non-traditional path to the pros. He balked at attending a powerhouse prep school to finish his prep career with his public high school teammates; and when presented with the chance to jump to the pros, he opted to return to college for his senior season.
Dunn’s case is proof that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey that gets you there.