Following a dominant 2014-15 season that saw him take home the Big East POY and Defensive POY, Providence PG Kris Dunn struck fear into the hearts of college coaches when he announced that he was returning for his redshirt junior year. Regarded as a potential Lottery pick and one of the top guard prospects alongside D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, the 6-4, 220-pound Dunn’s decision to come back wasn’t strictly a basketball decision. “I wanted to be a good role model for my two little sisters [ages 14 and 13—Ed.],” says Dunn. “I wanted to get my degree so I can create a path for them to get their degree when they go to college.”

Dunn battled shoulder injuries since stepping on campus, and last year was the first time the former McDonald’s All-American was able to stay healthy all season. Under the tutelage of former Providence and NBA point guard God Shammgod, Dunn—who cites John Wall and Russell Westbrook as guys he emulates—averaged 15.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 7.5 apg. Learning from Shammgod, who led the Friars to the Elite Eight in ’97, Dunn has elevated his game while forming a relationship with the assistant deeper than basketball.

“Shammgod, man, he’s done an unbelievable job with me mentally and physically,” Dunn explains. “I don’t just look at him as a mentor, I look at him as a friend and brother. We have a special bond that can’t be broken, and it’s been great to have him on my team.”

The Friars’ 2014-15 season ended in disappointment when they were upset by Dayton in the second round of the Tourney. Fortunately for Head Coach Ed Cooley, the Friars haven’t suffered a hangover after last season’s flame out. Off to a quick 6-1 start with an early season win over Arizona, Providence is on the verge of another NCAA Tournament berth and should battle it out with Villanova for Big East supremacy.

“Last year we had a really good team, but losing in the second round was devastating,” says Dunn. “We were better than that and weren’t on our A-game. Hopefully this year we do better and make it past that second round.”

Individually, the 21-year-old Dunn is averaging 19.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. Against NJIT, he nearly netted a quadruple-double with a 22-point, 10-rebound, 9-assist, 7-steal effort and has looked like a young Dwyane Wade early in the season as he stuffs the stat sheet. If he keeps it up, Dunn could and should be a top-5 pick and the first guard chosen in the 2016 NBA Draft. “I feel good about my decision to come back,” he says. “I wanted to mature a little bit on the floor, last year was really my first full year on the floor in college….I felt like I needed to polish my game a little bit more so I can be NBA ready.”