Get to know Damian Dunn, UH’s new arrival

Former Temple guard Damian Dunn committed to Houston on Saturday. Dunn’s commitment marks the first of multiple expected additions from the transfer portal before the team’s 2023-24 Big 12 debut.

With Tramon Mark’s departure last week, Dunn will help restock the UH backcourt that lost a lot of production from the 22-23 season. He has two years of eligibility left.

Last season, Dunn averaged 15.3 points on 41.1% shooting and three assists in 31 games for the Owls. He was named third-team All-AAC and was second-team in 2021-22 after averaging 14.9 points. Notably, he was Temple’s leading scorer in their late-January upset over the #1 Cougars, scoring 16 points in Temple’s 56-55 win.

Along with his skill as a scorer, Dunn also has a unique ability to use his 6’5″, 205-pound frame to draw contact, something that will be vital in a more physical Big 12. It is likely a big reason why Kelvin Sampson went after the “elite” graduate transfer. who was a “walking 20-piece” along with backcourt-mate Khalif Battle (also in the transfer portal).

“Damian Dunn gets to the free throw line as good as any guard in the nation,” Sampson said before the Cougars’ first game against the Owls.

Indeed, Dunn averaged 5.6 fouls drawn per 40 minutes in 2022-23, according to KenPom. He also shot a fantastic 81.4% from the line on 183 attempts, including a 16-18 showing against East Carolina.

Dunn and Shead went at it // Photo by Mario Puente

In a profile in The Athletic, Dunn revealed that he learned how to use his body to draw fouls and finish through contact from playing one-on-one against his two older brothers, Darius and Darnell — both of whom played in college.

As the youngest, he was “shown no mercy” by his brothers, which helped him develop the toughness to drive the lane. Dunn’s free throw prowess will be valuable for a team that struggled in that department and will lose its best and most frequent free throw shooter in Sasser.

The Kinston, North Carolina, native will be the fifth player in the Sampson era from the coach’s home state, joining the likes of Josh Carlton and Nate Hinton. Kinston, just south of Greenville, is a two-plus hour drive from Sampson’s hometown of Pembroke.

So far, Dunn is easily the oldest player making their Cougar debut in 2023-24. He will join UH with incoming freshmen Kordelius Jefferson, Joseph Tugler, and Jacob McFarland, while redshirt freshman Cedric Lath will also see the floor for the first time next season. With sophomores returning in Emanuel Sharp, Ja’vier Francis, and Terrance Arceneaux, the 21-year-old Dunn, who became a father in December, is one of just three Cougars on the current roster (with J’Wan Roberts and Mylik Wilson) that are old enough to buy a drink legally.

Houston will continue to look for more veteran help entering its first season in the Big 12.

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