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Jeff Dunn, a 2001 graduate of Dallas High, is still excelling on the basketball court at 29.
January 16, 2013
SALEM -- I wasn't sure what to expect when I entered the gym Sunday evening to watch some semipro hoops at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.
As I looked around, I tried to see if I could recognize any of the players for Salem's inaugural American Basketball Association men's team, the Sabres.
I spotted a couple familiar faces, took my seat on the baseline and got my camera ready for some action.
Here's what I learned almost immediately: Jeff Dunn can still shoot the lights out.
"I'm not 30 yet -- I can still play a little bit," Dunn told me later with a smile.
The 29-year-old Dallas native is really who I came to see, after I was tipped by a coworker of his presence on the squad's roster.
Based on his performance Sunday, it was almost as if someone tipped Dunn that I was coming.
Dunn, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, walked out as a starter (I thought `Yay!') and didn't waste any time finding the hoop, as he knocked down the first shot -- a 3-pointer, of course -- in the Sabres' game against the visiting Lakewood Panthers out of Washington.
Since I'm new to the area, I had to do some pregame research on Dunn, a Dallas High graduate who both starred on the basketball team at DHS and won a high school state golf title.
He later played both sports at Linfield for two seasons before transferring to Corban (then Western Baptist) to finish out his college career on the hardwood.
This isn't Dunn's first rodeo, as he played semipro ball for the now defunct Salem Stampede of the International Basketball League (IBL) from 2006-2010.
I still wanted to know if he was really any good.
Dallas native Jeff Dunn is in his fifth year of semiprofessional basketball after two seasons off. He’s a starting guard for the Salem Sabres, a first-year member of the American Basketball Association.
Well, I got my answer.
Dunn scored a team-high 28 points Sunday in the Sabres' 123-112 victory, making the squad winners of three straight at 3-2. His scoring came in bunches, as he netted 11 points in the first quarter and then nine in the fourth, which included a span where he picked up two steals, two assists and layup in less than a minute's time.
I really don't think Dunn missed a jumpshot if he was open.
As a lover of the jumper -- I would like to think I still have a pretty good one, too -- Dunn almost made me think that I had a chance at playing again, somewhere.
"Knowing that I'm still able to play at this level and I still feel good playing at this level and if there's something in my backyard that I can play, I'm going to do it," Dunn told me of his return to organized basketball after two years away.
Dunn still works the same job he's had since college, serving as a sales manager for his father's business, the Willamette Fruit Co.
He's still married to his high school sweetheart, fellow Dallas native Mindi (Tscheigg), and they have three boys, all under the age of 5.
And Dunn is still playing basketball -- very well.
How long will he play?
"As long as my wife lets me," he said with a chuckle. "We have three little boys at home, my job -- life is busy. But we only practice a couple nights a week, so when the boys are going to bed, I'll go to practice.
"If I'm not doing this, I'm probably playing pickup somewhere else."
Basically, Dunn's living the dream.
Not everyone has to have NBA fame and millions to be successful in the sport.
Playing for a small crowd at a community college with uniforms, referees, a little pocket change and legitimate competition sounds like plenty to me.
Nicole Watkins is the sports editor of the Itemizer-Observer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-623-2373. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleWatkinsIO.
What: Semiprofessional men's basketball team in its inaugural season in the American Basketball Association (ABA), formed in 1999. Plays in the Pacific Northwest Division against teams from Washington, Alaska and Canada.
Where: Home games are played at Chemeketa Community College, Salem.
Local ties: Jeff Dunn (Dallas High, 1997-2001); Kris White (Western Oregon, 2009-13).
Final home game: Lakewood at Salem, March 1, 7 p.m.
Admission: $10 adults, $5 children.
Online: www.salemsabresaba.com or follow Salem Sabres on Facebook.