Dunn humbled by honor

Ex-New London great Kris Dunn had his sophomore season at Providence College cut short by his second shoulder injury (he had surgery on Dec. 27), but the 6-foot-3 Dunn, who will have his No. 3 retired by the Whalers on Thursday, hopes to put the injury behind him next season.
Ex-New London great Kris Dunn had his sophomore season at Providence College cut short by his second shoulder injury (he had surgery on Dec. 27), but the 6-foot-3 Dunn, who will have his No. 3 retired by the Whalers on Thursday, hopes to put the injury behind him next season. AP File Photo

The news took him completely by surprise.

Kris Dunn received a call from Craig Parker, his basketball coach at New London High School, about a month ago informing him that the school would be retiring his jersey number.

"I was pretty shocked," Dunn said Monday. "It's definitely an honor to have my jersey retired. It was a surprise because a lot of great players came out of New London."

Now a sophomore at Providence College, Dunn will be honored during a ceremony before Thursday's 7 p.m. game against Hamden.

Dunn is certainly deserving of being the first player in the program's rich history to have his number retired. He wore No. 3.

He graduated in 2012 as the program's all-time leading scorer with 2,201 points. He led New London to a Class L state championship in 2011. He earned numerous honors including becoming only the fourth McDonald's All-American from Connecticut, a Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year and four time all-state selection.

Parker has called Dunn "the most celebrated player ever in Connecticut."

It's hard to argue with Parker, who has coached numerous talented players, including Tyson Wheeler and Allan Chaney, who both went on to star on the Division I level. Dunn broke Wheeler's scoring record at New London.

A 6-foot-3 point guard, Dunn's career at PC is off to a frustrating start. He's sidelined this season after undergoing his second right shoulder surgery in less than two years on Dec. 27. He was expected to play a prominent role until suffering the latest injury in an exhibition game on Nov. 2. He briefly returned to action, playing four games before ending his season.

It's been a very difficult time for Dunn, who plans to apply for a medical hardship waiver. He has played just 29 games in two injury-plagued seasons.

"It's definitely devastating for me and my family," Dunn said. "I know a lot of people wanted me to play this year. … But things happen and hopefully God won't let it happen again. I'm having a good time watching my teammates play."

Going through rehabilitation a second time has taught him to be patient and focus on the positive. He no longer wears a sling, but is still only able to do simple exercises. He expects to be ready for next season.

"I'm just trying to take it easy right now," Dunn said. "... Wish I was out there (playing)."

Dunn is supporting his Friar teammates in any way he can and taking advantage of his time on the sidelines by studying the game.

"I have to make sure to bring my energy like I did on the court," Dunn said. "I'm always cheering on my teammates no matter what. I'm just learning the game while I'm on the bench also."

Come Thursday night, Dunn will be back in the spotlight. Numerous family members and friends will be on hand to celebrate Dunn's high school career. His mind will wander to all his fond memories of his Whaler Glory Days.

"We definitely had a lot of moments," Dunn said. "Going to the Mohegan Sun for back-to-back (state championship games). The first time we lost, and then we bounced back and won it with a great group of guys. It was always an honor to win the ECC championship and playing with my teammates and friends.

"New London always has supported me."

Dunn also appreciates Parker's role in his development as a player and person.

"Coach Parker really believed in me since I was a freshman in high school," Dunn said. "He always had confidence in me and told me I'd be a good player if I worked hard every day and just listened and stayed humble. I really appreciate what he taught me."

g.keefe@theday.com

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