By Dakari Thomas
With seven minutes left in a game against Skyline College, Trevor Dunbar decided to make an instant impact on the game.
In transition, Dunbar hesitated to get a step on the defender, spun, dropped to the floor, and rose up for a double-pump finger roll and one. After the free throw, he stole the inbound pass and dropped off a no-look pass to his teammate for a dunk.
This type of impact, on a game that’s dominated by giants, is uncommon for a guard generously listed at 5-foot-10. However, if you followed high school basketball at all in the last four years, you know Dunbar has been noticed.
If he is so talented then why is he not at a national-powerhouse school getting ready to jump into the NBA? Getting to know Dunbar, the reason he shares his talents with City College becomes clear.
In 2011, as social media was on the cusp of becoming prevalent, YouTube basketball mixtapes were on the rise. One of the biggest channels that supplied these videos was the Bay Area-based group “Yayareasfinest,” which provided a new platform for local players to reach a mass audience.
The group documented players through not only high school but also Amatuer Athletic Union (AAU) basketball. The AAU league hosts tournaments throughout the spring and summer with teams that assemble some of the best recruits under 18 years old in the nation.
One of the players that caught on quick was a young sophomore at St. Ignatius College Preparatory named Trevor Dunbar, who became a virtual celebrity overnight. “He’s putting up scoring numbers not even three-time West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year Aaron Gordon of Mitty did,” Mitch Stephens of the SFGate said.
“City is known to get players out and it feels great to be back home.”
Mark Knight of Sports Illustrated’s FanSided called him “The best point guard in California.”
“It doesn’t stop even ‘til this day. It made high school a lot more fun than it would have been,” Dunbar said. “I loved it, and I still love it. I walk in the mall and people call my name.”
In 2012 he received the opportunity to join one of the most prestigious AAU teams of all time, the Oakland Soldiers. LeBron James, Chauncey Billups, Brandon Jennings, Drew Gooden and more NBA stars stack the team’s wild alumni list.
Through a multitude of videos that have garnered over eight million views in total, watchers began to flock to see the brash yet welcoming player.
He went on to become one of the biggest high school phenom’s the Bay Area has ever seen averaging 24 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, as well as earning First Team All Conference in three of his four years and being named the 2014 Central Coast Section Player of the Year.
When he became a senior, Dunbar’s his free time became about planning his next step, as Dunbar saw some of his close friends committing to play basketball at universities of their choices.
The process was even more difficult to endure as schools were shying away from Dunbar for multiple reasons.
“They stayed away from me or wouldn’t offer me because of my height and my grades,” Dunbar said. “It hurt, like really knowing you could make an impact but people doubt you off of something that you can’t even control.”
Dunbar’s academic performance specifically affected his recruitability.
“Then I only had a 2.4 (grade point average),”Dunbar said. “Arizona State is one of the many schools that wanted me but once they saw my grades they stopped contacting me. They wanted a 3.0.”
He ended up choosing Washington State University, which had seemed to embrace the smaller guard’s play style. After averaging a modest 0.8 points per game, and only appearing in 16 games, he was granted his release from the university.
It later came out that academic issues and some spats with teammates were what caused friction at the school. In a documentary series on YouTube, Trevor elaborated on why he made the decision to leave.
“There were games I wouldn’t touch the floor. I started not even mentally preparing for games because I knew I wouldn’t get in,” Dunbar said. “I honestly started to lose my love for the game.”
Trying to reignite his career, the now sophomore guard made the decision to go back home and enrolled at City College.
“City is known to get players out and it feels great to be back home,” Dunbar said. “Hopefully they can help me get this Division I scholarship.”
Here, it seems Dunbar has matured on and off the court. He is currently averaging 12 points and 5 assists per game on 47 percent shooting, earning all conference
first teams honors in his first season.
He is a big reason City College ended the regular season with only one loss and garnered a No. 1 seed going into the playoffs. Despite all of the doubt placed on him about his style of play, his height and his academics, Dunbar has risen to the occasion more times than not.
He is neither perfect nor trying to be, yet he is striving to maintain a level of consistency for a chance that few get. Dunbar’s legacy will depend on how he can revitalize his deficiencies, but at this point it’s looks as though he has turned the corner.
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Send an email to: Dakari Thomas