[caption id="attachment_11333" align="alignnone" width="615"] NCAA.com[/caption] Ladies and gentlemen, live from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., this is the Kris Dunn Show with your host, Friars point guard Kris Dunn, and co-host, head coach Ed Cooley! Get used to the phrase “The Kris Dunn Show” this season because it perfectly describes the 2015- 16 Providence Friars. Providence is a one-man show, and the star point guard is going to need some help from his teammates if the team plans on winning a Big East Championship. Last season, Dunn was named co-Big East Player of the Year with Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono, though the Providence point guard should have had it all to himself. But that was last year. Dunn had Big East leading scorer LaDontae Henton to depend on and take some of the offensive load. Providence lost three of its top four scorers from last season, including Henton, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers. Those three players were veterans on a young team and anchored Cooley’s defense. Members of that trio were also the recipients and converters on many of Dunn’s 7.5 assists per game.
The burden Dunn will have to carry for the Friars this season will be enormous, and it has already started. Anytime you read anything online or in the newspapers about Providence basketball, Dunn is the first name and face that you will see. He is plastered all over the Friars’ athletic page and has also been named the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook Preseason Player of the Year. For my money, he will likely be named the Big East Preseason Player of the Year by the time media day comes along. Teams that game plan for the Friars just have to remember three words: “Stop Kris Dunn.” If defenses can at least contain him and keep his point and assist totals down, the Friars are not nearly as scary as they were last year when Dunn had options.
Speaking of options, there are not many experienced players to come by for the Friars to start the season. Sophomore forward Ben Bentil had a solid finish to his season last year, but still has to make big strides in order to make a consistent contribution every night. Sophomore guards Jalen Lindsey and Kyron Cartwright are the only other players who made an impact last season. The Friars are going to need one or both of them to grow up in a hurry this season. Another issue is Providence’s overall size. The team has no one taller than the 6-foot-9-inch Bentil, and the Friars are hoping that freshman forward Quadree Smith can develop quickly. With no real size, Dunn will be relied on even more on both sides of the ball.
As far as Dunn’s NBA aspirations, this is a make or break year for him. Last year, despite having a deep and talented NBA Draft, Dunn would have likely been selected. But he opted to return. If Dunn succeeds this season, he could be a lottery pick in the 2016 draft, but if he does not, he may have wished that he had left after last season. While Dunn is one of the most talented players in the conference, he does not have enough around him to compete for a Big East Championship.
The pressure is on Dunn to make this team competitive in what is likely his last collegiate season. His teammates need to step up in order to make “The Kris Dunn Show” a sensation that is sweeping the college basketball nation. Sean Saint Jacques can be reached at email@example.com. edu or on Twitter @SSaintj7