Cliff Dunigan has a ride.
And a basketball scholarship to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, too.
There might not be a person around here who is more familiar with Missouri S & T hoops than Mundelein boys basketball coach Dick Knar. Not only does his daughter Toni play for the women's basketball team at the Rolla, Mo., university, but Knar played for Miners men's basketball coach Jim Glash in college.
Suffice it to say, Knar knows the road to Rolla.
So when Dunigan, Knar's 6-foot-3 senior wing, visited Missouri S & T in late October, he and his parents were accompanied by Knar, of course.
"Coach Glash had been talking to Coach Knar for a while, and Coach Knar told me they were extremely interested in me," Dunigan said. "(Glash) had come to a lot of our open gyms and had seen me play over the summer, and he really liked the way I played."
Turns out, the respect between Dunigan and Glash was mutual.
"I really like the coach," Dunigan said. "It seemed like he was genuinely interested in me, and I just thought it would be my best option."
Missouri S & T plays at the Division II level. Glash, who's originally from Chicago, has directed the Miners to a berth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament twice in his three seasons as head coach.
Some Division III schools were also looking at Dunigan. At the end of his three-day visit to Missouri S & T, he was offered a full scholarship, he said. He then went back home and thought about the offer for four days before giving the Miners a verbal commitment. He plans to sign a letter of intent next week.
"I just kept thinking about how much I liked it," Dunigan said, "and how great of an opportunity it was."
Dunigan averaged 9 points and 5 rebounds for Mundelein last season, starting on a Mustangs squad that won a regional championship and 26 games. He is the third Mundelein player to accept a scholarship, joining guard Robert Knar (Northern Iowa) and forward Sean O'Brien (Southern Illinois). Knar, however, could miss the entire season while recovering from ACL surgery. His absence means Dunigan will have more responsibilities this season.
"I have to be more of an aggressive type of player, because when Robert was on the court, usually I could just hang out and not be that aggressive on offense," Dunigan said. "I'd play defense and I'd get rebounds. Scoring really wasn't a big thing for me. But this year I think it's really going to be a big deal because Robert put up big numbers and we're going to have to make it up somehow."
Not to worry. Dunigan believes his game has improved.
"I think I've gotten a lot better at handling the ball," Dunigan said. "I think I can bring the ball up. I've really been working on it, and I think I've gotten better at shooting. And I've gotten stronger."
"Cliff continues to improve his play," Dick Knar said.
Dunigan's added strength should be evident when he has the ball in his hands. Last season, he seemed uncomfortable at times putting the ball on the floor.
"One of the reasons I didn't like dribbling was because I got bodied off the ball a lot," Dunigan said.
Mundelein fans should see a better Cliff Dunigan this winter. He's got his ride, after all.
"It relieves a lot of pressure, too, for the season," Dunigan said. "I can focus on just high school basketball and not have to worry about impressing (college) coaches."
He's already impressed the two coaches who matter most.