Versatility Pays Off for California Prep Star

Dominique Dunning's height was just right.

He was always one of the tallest kids on his youth basketball team growing up, and that advantage led coaches to play Dunning in the post. But as he got older, an alert coach could see that Dunning wasn't projected to be a big man for too much longer.

"When I was like 10 or 11, my coach said 'You're probably not going to play in the post (in high school and college),'" Dunning said. "That's when I started working on my jump shot and my ball handling.

"It paid off. Now I can play almost every spot on the floor."

Dunning is now 6-foot-4 and one of the top high school basketball players in California. He is a member of the iHoops First Team program and has signed a letter of intent with the University of New Mexico.

One of Dunning's greatest strengths is his versatility. He is a jack-of-all-trades talent, a dream for coaches because his broad skills can open up a wealth of lineup possibilities.

Playing for Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., Dunning plays on a loaded team that's among the nation's best. And his own play is a big reason why Centennial is so good.

"Dominique has to do a little bit of everything for us," Centennial coach Josh Giles said. "Because of that, I'm very hyper-critical of him, because he can't have a bad game. He can't play poor defense because he has to guard one of the other team's best players. He can't have a bad game offensively because we won't score. He can't not rebound because he's our best rebounder.

"I put a lot on him. But he hasn't complained about it yet, so I'll keep doing it."

Dunning's wide-ranging abilities was not lost on New Mexico coach Steve Alford, who offered a full scholarship after seeing him play for Centennial during the high school season and the Compton Magic in the summertime.

"We like his versatility in that he can play all three guard positions, and defend all three guard positions," Alford said. "He really is going to add to our backcourt."

Dunning learned about the recruiting process during his time with the iHoops First Team program, and used that knowledge to his advantage when he started receiving lots of letters and phone calls. It was New Mexico that showed him the most love early on, and that made him the most comfortable.

"I just felt like it was the perfect situation for me," Dunning said. "I can't wait to be a part of it."

A clear-cut position for Dunning at New Mexico hasn't been decided, but that's the beauty of his skills. In a time where some high school players choose to be 3-point specialists or lockdown defenders or slashers, Dunning can be all of them.

"I pride myself in being the most versatile guy on the floor," Dunning said.

That pride paid off--in the form of a Division I basketball scholarship so many players covet.

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