Former St. John’s Prep star heads to Italy’s top league

Brooklyn Nets’ Bryant Dunston (42) dunks over Orlando Magic’s Kyle O’ Quinn during an NBA summer league basketball game, Monday, July 9, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux
By Joseph Staszewski

Bryant Dunston heard the Internet rumors. A report out of Israel, where he last played, said the Brooklyn Nets were considering offering him a contract.

“They just made that up,” the 6-foot-8 power forward said.

The former Fordham and St. John’s Prep star played for the Nets’ summer league team in Orlando, but never expected the contract to come. He averaged 9 points and 6.4 rebounds a contest. His agent kept him updated and never mentioned anything of the sort. Instead, Dunston recently signed with Cimberio Varese, of the Italy Serie A league, the top league in the country.

“It felt like a good place to play,” he said. “I know a lot of the teams have good exposure. It’s a competitive league.”

It is Dunston’s fifth stop overseas, which includes trips to South Korea and Greece. He spent two years in Israel, last year with Hapoel Holon in the country’s premier league. Dunston averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per contest as Hapoel Holon beat Maccabi Rishon for the Premier League title. He also won a Korean League title with Mobis Phoebus in 2010.

“It’s a great experience seeing different places and different cultures, but you always want to play in the NBA,” he said.

Dunston is still hoping for a shot down the road. Out of college in 2008, after finishing his Fordham career as the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,832 points and its third all-time leading rebounder with 993 boards, he was invited to the Los Angeles Lakers summer league team.

The experience with the Lakers helped him learn what NBA teams are looking for in general, though every organization is different.

“It’s two different teams,” Dunston said. “But I know what every team is looking for, a guy who is an energetic hard worker.”

Right now, he is working toward another title on the New York City streetball circuit. Dunston scored 23 points to help defending champion Dyckman come back to beat TNP Aug. 7 in the Nike Pro City semifinals.

“It’s great to be back, but it’s going to be even greater if we can accomplish [a title],” Dunston said. “It’s always harder to repeat.”

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