RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Golden State's Mike Dunleavy Jr., who participated in this week's Pete Newell Big Man Camp at Kekuhaupi'o Gym, has been compared to Larry Bird.
NBA at lastIT'S only been 12 months, but it's already been a lifetime for Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Golden States Dunleavy comes of age
at this years Pete Newell Big Man Camp
By Cindy Luis
This time last year, he was thinking about turning 21, wondering how he could help his Duke basketball team repeat as NCAA champion and curious about the heat of the Lahaina Civic Center where the Blue Devils would open up the 2001-2002 season against Seton Hall.
So much has changed, just in the last eight weeks. Dunleavy is a multi-millionaire, courtesy of being the No. 3 pick in the June NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. He has a tailor, the same one Tiger Woods uses, and he's thinking about what he'll be driving to practice ... as well as his drives to the basket.
Being around NBA players at this week's Pete Newell Big Man Camp was nothing new to the son of a former NBA player and coach. Except this time, Dunleavy was one of them.
"It's a dream come true for me and I am very excited to be in the NBA," he tells anyone who asks. "I know that if I work hard, good things will come."
Dunleavy and the other Golden State players were a day late arriving at Kekuhaupi'o Gym, getting in last Tuesday. Yesterday's workout was cut short because a number of the pro players had afternoon flights to catch, including Dunleavy.
He was the first on the bus, both knees wrapped in ice. But he left quite an impression with the camp coaches.
"I've always been a Mike Dunleavy fan," said former NBA player and current Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz. "I've known him for a number of years and I think he'll be a very good professional.
"He's got certain things that are bases he can build on. First, he can shoot the ball so well. Second, he's a quick learner. He's got a basketball mind. The game comes easy to him. He's been around it his whole life."
The comparisons have already begun. The next Larry Bird is what many are calling the 6-foot-9, 220-pound All-American.
"No, I'm the next Mike Dunleavy," he said. "Nobody can take Bird's place. Let the new guys be the new guys."
Dunleavy's strength is his versatility. He played point guard in high school and "he's going to create problems when posting up against smaller guys," said former Hawaii guard Jarinn Akana, player development/Asia scout for the Denver Nuggets. "He can play the 2 (shooting guard) or the 3 (small forward). Once he develops a post game, there's going to be some mismatches and it will be hard to guard him.
Team: Golden State Warriors
Mike Dunleavy Jr.
Born: Sept. 15, 1980
Height, weight: 6-foot-9, 221 pounds
Drafted: No. 3 overall as a junior, 2002
Record with Duke: 95-13 (three years)
Honors: Second team All-America, first team All-ACC
Other NBA connection: Son of former NBA player and coach Mike Dunleavy
"He's been playing basketball his whole life. He knows the game, has very good fundamentals. He's gained some weight and he's just going to get stronger as he gets older."
Warriors' assistant general manager Gary Fitzsimmons was impressed with Dunleavy even before the draft.
"The one thing he understands is that he believes he can make other players better," Fitzsimmons said in an interview with NBA.com. "That's what he focuses on when he goes out there."
Whenever he's asked what his biggest asset is, Dunleavy's reply is as automatic as his jump shot.
"I bring a winning attitude," he said. "I'm versatile and bring a lot of things to a team, things that don't necessarily show up in the box score. My concern is getting used to the speed of play, the normal things a rookie needs to get acquainted with."
Said Newell: "He's going to be a wonderful NBA player. He's got great instincts for the game. He'll have to learn more of the physicality of the game and he needs to have a stronger body to be an inside guy. But he's got the knowledge and is very intuitive."
And Dunleavy has known all his life that he'd be an NBA player.
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