November 23, 2013

Dunham goes with Whitman

Kevin McCarthy

Who could turn down a town (Walla Walla, WA) so nice they named it twice? Add in a top academic institution, a coach who is a proven winner and Riverbank High/Stanco Stampede player Rolaun Dunham was sold on becoming one with Whitman College.

photo of Rolaun Dunham

The 6-foot-2 Dunham is an anomaly - a teenager mature beyond his chronological years. He gets it that college is a means of succeeding for the rest of one's life. He's a leader and mentor. In answering a question earlier about what he displays during a game, Dunham said, “my communication skills, getting people involved and that I like to defend.“ It sounds like the military academies in this country are missing the proverbial boat, plane, you name it.

So why Whitman?

“I took a visit in September, met the guys (his now future teammates) and they were cool with me. The head coach [Eric Bridgeland] reminds me of my coach [Riverbank Coach Jeff Jennings] here.”

Plus, the possessor of a 3.8 grade point average who is looking to major in computer science was impressed by Whitman's academics and the school has a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

So how did the connection to Whitman come to be?

“I was at my sister's house and out of the blue, I got a call from Coach Bridgeland. He said he had read about me in a Nor Cal Preps story. They watched me play in a tournament in southern California and liked my character and how I play physically.”

Dunham will be playing as a combo guard at the next level.

Whitman is a member of the Northwest Conference alongside George Fox, Lewis and Clark, Linfield, Pacific, Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound, Whitworth and Willamette and plays at the DIII level. Coming off a 19-8 overall, 12-4 conference season, the league's coaches recently forecast Whitman to finish second in 2013-14.

Dunham was told that Whitman will be scheduling a couple of games in California every year and this obviously will provide the opportunity for his family to see him play college basketball. This season, Bridgeland has his squad in tournaments in St. Louis and Las Vegas as well as a pair of games in southern California. Last season, it was participation in three games down south.

It's worth noting that Dominic Lippi, out of St. Joseph Notre Dame, is a junior backcourter at Whitman.

Profuse in his thanks, Dunham wanted to give a shout out to “my mother who has shown me that anything is possible with the Lord on one's side, my grandmother who taught me right from wrong, my sisters who are great role models, [Riverbank] Coach Jennings who is a father figure to me, [Stanco Stampede] Coach [Undrae] Walker and my friends for being supportive throughout the entire experience.”

Paced by Dunham's 16 points per game, Riverbank finished last season 24-5 overall, 10-2 in Trans Valley League play. The Bruins lost by four, 63-59, to Marin Catholic last March 6 in the initial round of the Division IV NorCal playoffs. Dunham scored 20 points, including a trio of treys, in that game.

What about 2013-14?

“We should be pretty good, we're working really hard.”

For Dunham, the latter is a given.