Cricket's Tall Loss Is Delaware's Gain Spencer Dunkley Literally Outgrew His First Sport. At Hoops, He's Caught The Attention Of Pro Scouts.

Posted: February 18, 1993

Looking at Spencer Dunkley's menacing, 6-foot-11 frame, it's impossible to imagine that at age 12 and growing up in Wolverhampton, England, the Delaware center had a passion for . . . cricket.

Imagine . . .

"Master Spencer, care for a spot of cricket before teatime?"

Uh-huh.

What you're more likely to envision is Dunkley's foreboding inside game on a basketball court and what it has done for the Delaware Blue Hens.

With Dunkley in the middle, the Blue Hens have been a formidable foe in the North Atlantic Conference the last two seasons, compiling an 16-5 overall record this season, with a 7-2 mark in the NAC.

"People think cricket isn't a big man's game, but both my parents were Jamaican," Dunkley explained. "The Jamaican National Team would come to England and play with all these big men. I wanted to emulate them."

So, being 6-6 at the time, Dunkley became one of England's better prep stars in cricket.

Until he discovered a YMCA.

"I joined the Y basketball league at age 16," Dunkley said. "By then, I was too big to play cricket, so I turned to basketball."

No cricket player in the NAC plays basketball better than Dunkley.

The senior center had a career-high 39 points and had 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots as the Hens sent Vermont back to the ski slopes, knocking off the Catamounts, 88-73, on Saturday.

In that game, Dunkley became the 16th player in school history to post 1,000 career points. He also moved into second place on the school's all-time list with 833 career rebounds, 49 shy of the school record Dunkley figures to

break during next month's NAC tournament.

Alex Coles and Mark Murray may have carried Delaware last season, but, clearly, Dunkley is shouldering the Hens this season. He leads the club in scoring (20.0 points per game), rebounding (13.5, second in the nation) and blocked shots (3.6, sixth in the nation).

He also is Delaware's leading shooter (53.1 percent) from the field and is sinking his free throws at a 78.9 percent clip.

Pro scouts have been keeping close tabs on Dunkley, as well as Hartford center Vin Baker, at NAC games. "I plan to go to some of the camps after the season and hope to show the pro scouts what I have," Dunkley said.

Dunkley spent most of the summer working on his footwork and inside game. Also, he's improved the timing on his shot blocking.

Delaware enters this weekend with the second-longest home winning steak - 20 games, seven shy of No. 1 Indiana, which has won 27 straight at home.

The Hens (7-2) remain a threat to repeat as NAC champs. First-place Drexel and Northeastern (both 8-1) will clash Sunday at the Physical Education Athletic Center. If Drexel wins its final four games, the Dragons will take the league title.

The March 3 finale featuring Drexel at Delaware will likely determine the conference regular-season title and who gets that all-important postseason tournament home-court advantage.

"That's the big one," Dunkley said. "It's unbelievable how Drexel's come around. They lose all those good players, and then they come out of the shadows, and now everyone is chasing them, including us. We've got to be on our toes for them."

WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS. Penn junior Mary Pedersen captured first place in every event in Quakers wins over West Chester and Ursinus last week. Pedersen also set a school record with a 9.7 score on the uneven bars in a win over Rutgers on Saturday.

MEN'S NAIA BASKETBALL. Among the pleasant surprises for coach Dan Williams this season at Holy Family College (20-10) is the play of a pair of all- Catholic stars, Chris Razler, of Father Judge fame, and Joe Simko (Archbishop Ryan). Razler, a senior forward, is fourth in NAIA District 19 scoring (18.7), and Simko, a freshman, is ninth (14.6). Simko's impact at guard can't be understated on the 14-10 Tigers. "He came here with a lot of skills," Williams said. "But he still has a lot of untapped potential. Each game, he's better than the game before. Down the road, he's going to be really good."

NJAC TOURNAMENT. Barring an unforeseen upset, the Rowan College men's team (20-1, 14-1) will host either Stockton State (17-4, 11-4) or Trenton State (12-9, 10-6) in the opening round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament on Wednesday. Rowan's women's team (18-2, 14-1) will host either Montclair State (13-8, 10-5) or Trenton State (12-10, 8-8) next Thursday.

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