New London - Not only did Kris Dunn join an exclusive club Thursday when he was named the state's Gatorade Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.
He also joined a club that includes two of his close friends, Casey Cochran and Andre Drummond.
"It's good to be a part of the group with them,'' said Dunn, the New London High School senior who is heading to Providence College next season.
"I'm thankful for the award and to all the people who helped me achieve this,'' Dunn said. "It's one of the highest awards.''
Cochran won the football award this fall at Masuk High School. Cochran, who led New London to a state championship his freshman season, is now a student at UConn and is in a five-way battle for the starting quarterback position. Drummond won the boys' basketball award last season while at St. Thomas More. He just completed his freshman season at UConn.
Dunn, a 6-foot-4 guard, led the Whalers to the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division and tournament titles this season. New London (24-3) lost to St. Joseph in the CIAC Class LL semifinal last Wednesday. Dunn averaged 31.4 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals per game this season. He also helped lead the Whalers to a 27-0 record and the Class L championship as a junior.
Dunn is the second player from New London to win the award, joining Allan Chaney (2008). Dunn has maintained a 3.23 grade point average. He also volunteers as an elementary school mentor and tutor and as a youth sports coach.
Gatorade honors players from each state based on athletic excellence, high standards for academic achievement and character on and off the court.
"It is special. The Gatorade is a very prestigious award,'' New London coach Craig Parker said. "If you just check the past recipients, it's quite a list.
"He's a deserving winner. Kris fit all the criteria to win the award. The awards that this young man has won at the high school level ... it's astounding.''