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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Tale of the Tape: Kris Dunn vs. Charles Correa

By Adam Finkelstein

ESPN Boston will be out in full force on Saturday night to cover a match-up with two reigning state champions, as Connecticut’s New London High School meets Rhode Island’s Saint Raphael Academy.

At the heart of the match-up is the promising individual battle between New London’s Kris Dunn and Saint Raphael’s Charles Correa, arguably the top two players in their respective state associations.

While the Providence-bound Dunn’s notoriety far outweighs Correa’s on the national level, recruiting doesn’t mean a thing in Saturday’s game. It’s simply a matter of which player can do more to help their team get a win, and when it comes to that department, Correa is no one’s pushover.

Here’s a Tale of the Tape to assess how the matchup might play out:

PHYSICAL TOOLS

Size & Length: At six-foot-three with long arms, wide shoulders, and a rapidly emerging physique, Kris Dunn has as good of a basketball body as any lead guard in the country. Correa doesn’t have nearly the same size or length, but has a strong core and a good knack for how to create space. That will help, but ultimately he’s going to be fighting an uphill battle in this department as the size and length disparity would be enough to give anyone problems.
Advantage – Dunn

Quickness & Athleticism: Dunn has tremendous end to end speed with the ball in his hands, and is an absolute blur in the open floor. The length of his strides supplements what is already an explosive build to allow him to cover an incredible amount of ground exceptionally quickly. Correa’s explosiveness is based more off quick starts and stops. He varies his speeds to perfection, is quick out of his stance on both ends of the floor, and is shifty enough to maximize his tools in the quarter court. Dunn’s size and length advantage is only magnified by superior vertical athleticism, as he consistently plays above the rim while Correa’s game comes under the ten foot barrier.
Advantage – Dunn

BALL SKILLS

Passing: Both of these guys are scorers by nature. That’s not to say they aren’t capable of seeing the floor and making those around them better –- they can and do. But when the game is on the line and it comes time to show their bread and butter, both guys are going to look to make a play for themselves and allow instinct to take over depending on how the defense reacts to their penetration. Both are versatile enough to make interior shovel passes to their big men, kick out to shooters, or hit a cutter on the move.
Advantage – Draw

Shooting: Dunn’s three-point range is much improved in the last year, but on the surface this is the most notable advantage Correa has going into Saturday’s match-up. He’s an old-school sniper who can’t be left unchecked from behind the three-point line, knows how to utilize screens to get his shot off, and has the rare ability to make tough shots while squaring in the air or firing off his back foot. If the two were competing in a three-point contest, Correa would likely win easily, but within the context of the game, Dunn’s length will help to neutralize Correa’s advantage as it will allow the future Providence guard to shoot over the top of his defender while forcing Correa to speed up his release in order to get his shot off.
Advantage – Correa

Ballhandling: Ultimately, ballhandling comes down to two things –- the ability to make a play with the bounce, and the ability to handle the ball against pressure to make decisions. When it comes to playmaking, these guys go about it in different ways. Dunn is more of a straight line driver, while Correa is a little flashier with his handle. When handling against pressure, both can be sped up at times; and while Correa looks to flatten pressure more often than not, Dunn is able to see and pass over the top of it.
Advantage – Draw

DEFENSE AND REBOUNDING

On the Ball: Both players look to utilize their quickness and other physical tools to their advantage. Dunn’s going to pressure the ball and attempt to use the length of his strides to keep the man in front, and the length of his arms to poke at the ball and get deflections. Correa can turn his smaller frame into an asset by getting into the ball-handler and utilizing his lower center of gravity to stand up the dribbler, giving him ideal position to get steals. The difference maker is Dunn’s motor, as he never lets up on this end of the floor.
Advantage – Dunn

Off the Ball: There may not be a better passing lane defender in New England than Dunn. New London’s calling card is their press, and often times they let Dunn play the second line in order to utilize his anticipation skills to pick off passes and create subsequent transition opportunities. In fact, I would estimate that close to 50 percent of his offensive production comes in the open floor as a result of some type of defensive play. This is one area that really separates Dunn from his peers, as most high school players -- Correa included -- have a tendency to rest when on the weak side of the floor defensively.
Advantage – Dunn

On the Glass: Dunn may be a guard, but his rebounding numbers are among the CIAC’s best through the first three weeks of the season. His size and athleticism allows him to rise up to rebound above traffic, while his nose for the ball enables him to rebound well outside his area, both inside and out. This is another area where Correa’s physical tools don’t give him the same potential ability as Dunn, but it’s also not as much of a focal point for him.
Advantage – Dunn

INTRINSIC FACTORS

Experience: Dunn is far more battle-tested on the national level. He’s played on center court at all the country’s biggest stages, from the NBA Camp to the Adidas Super 64 to AAU Nationals. But when it comes to strictly high school basketball, Correa is just as proven. He led his team to a state title as just a sophomore, and has battled New England’s best throughout his AAU career. Don’t discount the unofficial home-court advantage in this one, as Correa and Saint Raphael are likely to have more fans and familiarity with the arena at CCRI Warwick than Dunn and New London.
Advantage – Draw

Motivation: New London has been taking on all challengers to start the season, including matchups with perennial Connecticut powerhouses like Hillhouse, Trinity Catholic, and St. Joseph’s. With a matchup against one of New York’s best -- Queens powerhouse Cardozo High School -- on tap for later this month, this is just another blip on the radar. But for Correa and St. Raphael, this might as well be the Final Four. The game is an opportunity not just for the team to prove itself, but also for them to legitimize RIIL basketball on the whole. For Correa, a match-up with the second-ranked point guard in the country is the biggest stage he’s going to have to prove his worth to evaluators and college coaches.
Advantage – Correa

Leadership: Dunn’s return for his senior season has been cause for celebration in New London, and by spurning the bigger stage of prep school basketball in order to return home he has only helped to solidify his role as this team’s unquestioned leader. The fact that Dunn is also his team’s best defender and rebounder makes him all the more "follow-able" by his teammates’ standards. By contrast, Correa has his teammates’ faith on the offensive end and they rely on him to make big plays down the stretch of games, but whether or not they look up to him with the same wide range as New London does Dunn, remains to be seen.
Advantage – Dunn

BOTTOM LINE

While recruiting may have nothing to do with Saturday’s match-up between Kris Dunn and Charles Correa, ultimately the methodology may prove to be somewhat similar. Dunn’s size, length, and versatility are at the heart of what helped to propel him atop the national rankings this summer. This weekend, it could be those same tools that prove to be the deciding factor in his match-up with Correa. The St. Raphael guard may actually have a slight edge in terms of sheer offensive skills, but when those skills are put to the test in the context of a full court game, Dunn’s total package could prove too much to handle.

Adam Finkelstein is the founder and editor of the New England Recruiting Report and also covers recruiting in the northeast for ESPN Scouts Inc. Adam has the rare distinction of having coached or scouted at the high school, NCAA, and NBA levels, having worked as a Division I assistant at the University of Hartford and spent three years under the NBA's director of scouting Marty Blake.