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Freshman Dunning Leaves Lobos

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Freshman Saw Limited Time

Freshman Dominique Dunning, a highly-recruited but little-used guard on the New Mexico men’s basketball team, quit the team on Monday and will transfer.

Dunning says he has not decided where he will transfer, but will first finish the semester at UNM.

“I just thought about the future, and I thought that staying here wasn’t in my best interest,” Dunning told the Journal on Monday. “I haven’t really thought about where I’ll go. Even though I had already made my decision before the season was over, I was still trying to concentrate on what was going on now. I’ll get to (finding) another school soon, and make a decision as soon as possible.”

The 6-foot-4 Dunning, who’s from Corona, Calif., played in 19 games for the 28-7 Lobos this season. He averaged just 6.2 minutes a game in the ones he played. He did not play in either of the Lobos’ NCAA Tournament games this past weekend. UNM made the round of 32 before losing 59-56 to Louisville on Saturday.

On Monday, New Mexico coach Steve Alford said, “Dominique spoke with me today and wants to get back closer to home and receive more playing time, and I have granted this request. Dominique worked extremely hard this year and was an outstanding teammate. It was a season where we were extremely deep with guards, and unfortunately I couldn’t play everybody. We appreciate everything Dominique did for us this year and wish him nothing but the best.”

Dunning’s father, Alan Dunning, said that Dominique “wants to find a new home where his talents will be needed. He’ll sit out his one year and have three years of eligibility left at a program that wants him there, where he can contribute.”

When a player transfers, he must sit out one year per NCAA rules. A player has five years in which to complete his four seasons of eligibility.

Alan and Dominique said there are a number of schools that Dominique has in mind, but he is keeping his options open.

Dunning scored more than 2,000 points during his career at Centennial High in Corona, and helped the team to the semifinals of the California State tournament.

The Lobos often used as many as 10 players off the bench during games this season, but Dunning was the 11th man.

He played 12 minutes in the Lobos’ season-opening game, a 92-54 blowout of Division II New Orleans, but played more than that just once the rest of the year — when he got 13 minutes and scored a season-high six points in a 91-46 rout of Montana State.

Other than the Lobos’ two lopsided wins against Air Force (by a combined 69 points), Dunning played just a total of 10 minutes in UNM’s other 12 Mountain West Conference games.

For the season, Dunning averaged 1.5 points and 0.8 rebounds a game.

Dunning verbally committed to the Lobos before his junior year in high school. He signed an official letter of intent with UNM in the fall of 2010.

“We had coaches (from other schools) calling us right up to signing day, but Dominique stayed loyal to New Mexico no matter what happened,” Alan said. “He came expecting to play and never got the opportunity to play. He remained a good teammate throughout the season, he remained positive.

“I’m sure if people saw him during the games, they probably thought he was happy to be on the bench. Truth is, he was more frustrated inside than he’s ever been in his life.”

— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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