By Mickey Furfari
For the Times West Virginian
Mike Carey, veteran head coach of the West Virginia women’s basketball team, couldn’t be happier to have Ayana Dunning as the center for three seasons.
She is a 6-foot-3 standout from Columbus, Ohio, who transferred here after one year at LSU. Dunning sat out one year under the transfer rule.
Going into Tuesday night’s regular season finale on the road at Texas, Dunning was averaging 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game against some taller and heavier centers for the Mountaineers (17-11, 9-8 Big 12).
Besides totaling 228 points and 175 rebounds in 28 games this season, she has 115 field goals, 10 from 3-point range in 33 attempts, 48 free throws in 82 tries, 33 assists, 29 steals and 25 blocked shots.
“Ayana has been a great player for us,” Carey said. “More than that, she also has been a great person.”
He noted that she already has graduated with a degree in sport management and, as a result, is working on a master’s degree in education.
“It’s just a joy to coach her,” Carey continued. “She can play forward or not. She can score from the three or go to the break and get you points, so she’s really a great player for us and we’re going to miss her next year. She does it all.”
He added that Ayana comes from a good family and should be successful in whatever she decides to do when leaving — play professional basketball or go into a role of education as a teacher.
“I’m definitely happy I’m in West Virginia,” Dunning said during a break in practice last week. “It feels great to be a Mountaineer and helping my teammates and coaches.”
She admitted that it took her some time getting accustomed to Morgantown at first. But slowly, surely she got well acquainted with classmates and teammates.
Dunning grew up in Ohio and was a graduate of Columbus Eastmoor High School. She was ranked as the 12th-best overall player and third-best post player in the nation by one rating firm.
She averaged 17.6 points and 13.1 rebounds per game in her high school career.
During her one season at LSU, in 2008-09, Dunning appeared in 23 games (nine starts) and averaged 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. She averaged 13.7 minutes per game.
For her first two seasons at WVU, her statistic totals were: 2010-11 season — 34 games, 49-117 fgs, 1-5 3-pt goals, 40-63 ft, 152 rebounds, 139 points, 25 steals and 13 blocked shots; 2011-12 season — 34 games, 105-211 fgs, 6-21 3-pt goals, 66-85 fts, 286 rebounds, 282 points, 8.5 avg., 38 steals and 24 blocked shots.
Dunning’s career game highs include 21 points at St. John’s, nine field goals made three times, 17 field goal attempts versus Texas, nine free throws made versus LSU, 14 free throws attempted versus LSU, 17 rebounds versus USF, four steals four times and five blocked shots versus Youngstown State.