No one at SI is as popular as basketball great Trevor Dunbar ’14, at least not on the playing fields of YouTube, where the video “Trevor Dunbar is Too Shifty” has racked up nearly 1.4 million views.
The “shifty” in the title refers to Dunbar and eight of his friends who play at different high schools and who call themselves the Shift Team for their ability to juke past opposing players by faking right and driving left.
Dunbar played either with or against those athletes in elementary and middle school, but it’s his SI team that gives him the most joy. “I love those guys,” said Dunbar. “I came up with the starting five freshman year to varsity. My fellow guard Jaren Yang is my best friend on and off the court.”
Dunbar, at 5-feet-10 and 175 pounds, led his team to the CCS DII championship, and he earned a bucketful of personal accolades along the way, including WCAL Player of the Year, CCS Player of the Year (named by Prep2Prep and Cal-Hi Sports) and the Chronicle’s top player in San Francisco.
In a game against Serra, he scored 40 points, including seven 3-pointers, just one point shy of the school record set by John Duggan ’92. Against Riordan, he scored each of his team’s final 20 points and made 29 of the 39 points in that 1-point victory. Over the season, he averaged 22 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds per game.
Trevor’s coaches know just what a special player he is. Head Coach Tim Reardon, who coached Dunbar in each of his four years at SI, noted that “I have a hard time believing that he can still do things in a game that surprise me. Just when I thought I had seen it all, he would come up with something that even a circus performer could appreciate.”
Reardon has seen his share of great players in the WCAL, “including John Duggan ’92 and the Gordon brothers, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone with the kind of creativity of Trevor Dunbar. He's going to make some D1 college very happy, as he makes practices fun for his teammates, he makes games fun for the spectators, and he has the ability to make his coaches into fans.”
One of those fans is assistant coach Rob Marcaletti ’96, who calls Dunbar a “one-of-a-kind player and one of the best ball-handlers this school and the league have ever seen. His success is a testament to his incredible work ethic that has been instilled in him by this father from an early age.”
That work ethic began when Dunbar was 4 watching his father play in adult leagues. “He would bring me to the gym and have me put up shots. I might make five shots for every hour of shooting.”
By third grade playing summer ball in the Amateur Athletic Union and CYO for St. Paul of the Shipwreck, Dunbar began turning heads. By 8th grade, he was ranked 20th in the nation for boys his age and played in the AAA for Aptos, helping his team win the city championship and averaging 25 points a game. “Then I stopped growing,” he noted.
He chose SI over other schools even though he knew few people here. “I visited SI and liked it more than any other school I saw.”
He played freshman ball for Reardon, and when Reardon became head boys’ varsity coach the following year, he brought Dunbar along with him.
“We get along well,” said Dunbar. “Coach Reardon has a great sense of humor and prepares us well for each game, as do coaches Rob Marcaletti and Jamal Maugh.”
Dunbar’s ability to fake out opponents caught the eye of local filmmakers Travis Farris and George Nguyen, who posted videos of Dunbar and his friends while they were still in middle school. Nguyen later featured Dunbar in a YouTube series called “A Season’s Worth.” The videos capture his ability to do something he calls “the dime” – run down court and pass the ball behind his back to a teammate. “It’s like turning on a dime,” he noted.
Dunbar realizes this attention is a double-edged sword. “Sometimes, when I’m at the mall or movies, people ask to take pictures with me. I love the support, but I also read comments that amount to trash talk. People will write about my lack of height or call me overrated. That last one hurts the most because I know how much work I put in every day.”
That work includes three-a-day sessions with his father and younger brother. The two will start at 10 a.m., shoot at a gym, then run a mile before returning to the gym for more drills until 10 p.m. Even after a regular practice at SI, Dunbar will shoot for a few more hours or do water exercises in a pool.
He looks to 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas, a point guard for the Sacramento Kings, as a role model. “I try to emulate his moves, as he has the same built as I have. He was always told that he was too short, and though I wish I was taller, being 5-10 makes me quicker and better at shifting.”
At the time of this writing, Dunbar hasn’t committed to play for a college, though Cal Poly, Florida Gulf Coast, Texas A&M, LMU and Grand Canyon have all made him offers thus far.
He knows he’ll miss SI while he’s in college. “Here I’m with my friends, and we have a tight community. I like coming to school because of the people here, including great teachers, like Bobby Gavin who taught me freshman English.”
SI will miss him too. “Players like Trevor don't come around very often,” said Marcaletti. “He’s definitely going to be missed.”