In fact, the last St. Francis-Brooklyn terrier freshman to average double-digit points for a full season was 1,000-point scorer Stefan Perunicic, who posted 10.8 points per game in 2008-09, and before him was a guard by the name of Richy Dominguez (11.4 ppg) in 1997-98.
The early returns suggest that the Terriers have found a steal in current freshman guard Rasheem Dunn, who decided to stay in his home borough after being an intrinsic member of a historic Thomas Jefferson High School championship run as a senior last year.
Alongside another top local freshman in current St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, Dunn and the Orange Wave won Jefferson’s first PSAL title since 1954, and their first New York State championship ever.
Fast forward to last week, where Dunn’s contributions for the now 2-0 Terriers (in league play) landed him a second Northeast Conference Rookie of the Week Award for the month of December, the first freshman to win the honor since Isaiah Blackmon of Saint Francis U earned the achievement on January 25.
“Nobody really respects you on the court because you’re a freshman,” Dunn said in an exclusive with the Queens Ledger-Brooklyn Star last week. “I had to prove myself to my coaches and let them know that even though I’m a freshman, I could be a leader on the court. I have what it takes to win games, and I appreciate them for trusting me.”
On December 29, the Terriers beat the Bryant Bulldogs, 80-77, and two nights later, the Boys from Brooklyn outlasted the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, 86-77.
After a slugfest in regulation, the Terriers entered the overtime period tied with the Bulldogs at 68. Dunn, who’s currently the team’s sixth man, stepped up for a few key field goals right out the gate, recording nine straight Terrier points before starting guards Glenn Sanabria and Yunus Hopkinson put on the finishing touches from the free throw line.
Dunn finished the night with 24 points and seven rebounds (both career highs), hitting 8-of-18 from the floor, including a perfect 3-for-3 in overtime.
“He was tremendous,” said Terrier head coach Glenn Braica after the game. “He really had a great game, and he did it defensively, offensively, on the glass, I don’t know what more he could’ve done. He did everything that we asked of him and more.”
Just two days later in another overtime victory in over Central Connecticut State, the Terriers were led by Sanabria, who had 26, while Hopkinson added an efficient 17 points.
Dunn, who finished with 19, putting his early NEC scoring average at 21.5 points per game, once again came away with big buckets down the stretch.
“Throughout the season we’ve had some tough games, but there’s no strength without struggle,” Dunn remarked. “We struggled in the beginning of the season and we came together, put the past behind us and got the win.”
Dunn had a team-high 11 second-half points, eight of which came in the final 3:42, and a game-best four overtime points, including the game-sealing last two free throws.
For further context, Dunn averaged a team-best 15.2 points per contest in 29.3 minutes per game during nine appearances in the month of December.
Did I mention he’s the team’s sixth man?
“Being a freshman, I had to show my coach that I’m mentally tough,” Dunn said in the win after Bryant on New Year’s Eve. “When they put the ball in my hands, they trust me to get a basket.”
In 15 games so far, which is technically about midway through considering there are 16 regular season match-ups remaining on the Terrier schedule, Dunn has posted double-digit points in 10 appearances, including six of his last seven and eight of his last ten.
For the season, the 6-foot-2 Terrier currently averages 13.3 points per game, which ranks tied for second on the Terriers with the aforementioned Hopkinson (Sanabria sits at 14.8).
This margin not only places him second among NEC freshmen, but also ties him for 12th in the entire conference.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Braica, who continues to be blown away by the progress his star first-year guard has made. “He’s not a finished product, none of them are, but he’s going to be really, really good.”
If he continues to impress, Dunn has a chance to become the Terriers’ first NEC Rookie of the Year since Allan Sheppard earned the hardware back in 2004-05 as a sophomore.
The Terriers return to action this Thursday at 7 p.m. to take on the Saint Francis University Red Flash, which will be live streamed on NECFrontRow.com. Afterward, the Brooklyn Boys will face Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Saturday at 4 p.m., also on Front Row.
Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY