Blue Ribbon picks Dunn as national POY, Simmons as top newcomer

Providence guard Kris Dunn has been chosen by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook as its preseason national player of the year.

Also in its 35th anniversary edition, Blue Ribbon picked LSU freshman Ben Simmons as its national newcomer of the year.

The 6-foot-4 Dunn racked up impressive numbers last season (15.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 2.7 spg) and gives Providence an opportunity to continue winning in what coach Ed Cooley called a “semi-rebuilding” situation for a team that has made the NCAA tournament field the last two years.

“Every game Kris is in, he’ll dominate the ball and give us a chance,” Cooley said. “His presence on the floor is unique and he’s the type of talent that can clearly carry a team.”

Though feedback with NBA teams after last season revealed that Dunn was a certain Top 20 pick in the Draft and possibly a lottery pick, he chose to stay in school.

“I still have a lot of work to do on my game,” Dunn said. “I have to work on my dribbling, my shooting range, cut down on my turnovers. Bottom line is I don’t want to just play in the pros. I want to be ready to play when I get to the pros.”

Cooley isn’t the only coach who’s been impressed with Dunn’s development after he shook off the effects of two shoulder injuries, the first when he was still in high school.

“He’s about as impressive of a point guard as I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Dayton coach Archie Miller during last year’s NCAA tournament. “The last guy I think I’ve seen on film that startles you at that position was Kemba Walker. He’s so dominating in the game on both ends of the floor. The ball hits people’s hands on time like I’ve never seen it before. Not only is he tough to deal with as a scorer, he puts the ball where it needs to be at all times.”

If there were any doubts whether Simmons could make an immediate and significant impact at LSU, perhaps those were dispelled after the Tigers’ trip to Australia—Simmons’ native land—in August. In five games against professionals, many of whom previously played Division I basketball, Simmons led his team in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage, assists, steals and blocked shots.

That pretty much covers the major statistical categories for the 6-10, 225-pound Simmons, whose only blemish on the trip was 61 percent free-throw shooting. But he got to the line 39 times, an impressive average of 7.8 attempts per game.

It will be interesting to see how LSU coach Johnny Jones and his staff utilize the multi-talented Simmons.

“We have the option of using him where he’s going to be most effective for us in a particular game,” Jones said. “He may start out playing one position, and we can move him to another spot during a game. He has that ability. We won’t put ourselves into a position of saying, he’s got to be a three man, or a four man, or play the two. He can play all over the floor.”

Blue Ribbon’s 35th edition is available for pre-order now at blueribbonyearbookonline.com. The book will be available in a version for tablet readers in late September and in perfect- and spiral-bound editions in mid October.






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