Think you know LaceDarius Dunn? Think again.
by Adam Sweeney / @AdamSweeney
The Baylor Bears made their presence known at The Big Dance last year in the NCAA Men’s Tournament with an Elite Eight appearance, losing to the eventual champion Duke Blue Devils. This year they were supposed to become homecoming king and bring a title back to Waco, TX. That chance has dimmed somewhat this week with the arrest of 2010 Wooden Award candidate LaceDarius Dunn on second degree aggravated assault charges. The details surrounding the case, in which Dunn allegedly hit his girlfriend, LaCharlesla Edwards, are as mysterious and confusing as an M. Night Shyamalan ending. Almost as puzzling is the question of what the 2010 season holds for the Baylor Bears team.
The Bears were poised to take over the Big 12 with their own version of “The Big Three.” Dunn was set to play alongside Quincy Acy, the lightning rod of the team, and Perry Jones, the projected No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. How good is Jones? The 6-11 forward has been getting comparisons to another lengthy former Big 12 player, Kevin Durant. While that may be setting the bar extremely high for the freshman, the ceiling was even higher for the Baylor team’s season before the Dunn incident went down.
If Dunn is suspended for the season (which is not a guarantee by any means), the Bears will now have to ask Jones to grow from cub to grizzly overnight. The silver lining is that head coach Scott Drew is recruiting out of his mind and Baylor has arguably formed their most balanced squad ever, but let’s face the facts. You don’t replace a 20-point scorer in your lineup without some discomfort. Dunn is Baylor’s unquestioned general and he made everyone around him better. It only stands to reason that his current predicament has the converse effect at the moment.
I had the chance to speak with Dunn three weeks ago and he talked about how blessed he was to be part of the Baylor program. He came across as a respectful and focused individual, a man who recognized the importance of his family in his life.
“I’m not a partier like people may think,” said Dunn. “I go home or study when I’m not in the gym.”
Before you jump to conclusions or think of making a snarky comment about his quote, let’s face facts. By that, I mean none of us really know what happened between Edwards and Dunn. Only they do. Her written statement, in which she claimed Dunn never struck her, proves that point since it is in contradiction with earlier reports that claim he broke her jaw by striking her with a closed fist. If her injury was a case of a couple playing a bit too rough, it will likely change the outcome of the investigation, as well as that of the Baylor Bears’ 2010 team success and Dunn’s NBA prospects. Sadly, his stock has unquestionably been impacted
With Dunn on the team, Baylor may still see gold this season. Without him, a darker shade will be cast on a program that has fought so hard to overcome the tragedies of its past.
We are quick to condemn individuals, especially athletes, who are in legal trouble before we even have time to let the dust settle. It’s as if we don’t have enough faith in our system to allow for the situation to right itself.
Is domestic abuse, if that is what happened here, justified? Never. We in no way condone any form of physical violence. The issue is an understandably heated one for many. That doesn’t mean that we should be so quick to offer a knee-jerk reaction to not just a player, but a man, that we hardly know. Like it or not, all the Baylor Bears Men’s basketball team, Dunn, Edwards and the fans following the scandal can do, for the time being at least, is grin and bear it.