Former NBA Coach Mike Dunlap, of Fairbanks, named Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Candidate

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is a collection of athletes, coaches and moments that signify what it is to be a sports icon in the Last Frontier.

A new slate of candidates for the Class of 2020 have been announced, including Fairbanks' own Mike Dunlap.

Dunlap started his basketball journey playing for the Lathrop Malemutes in the mid-70's before taking his talents to Loyola Marymount University.

At Loyola, Dunlap became the first Alaskan to finish their college basketball career at a Division I program.

This would be the start of many firsts for Dunlap.

He went on to be the first Alaskan to win a national championship as a coach, leading Metro State to two titles in 2000 and 2002 at the Division II level.

Dunlap reached the top of his respective field, when he coached the Charlotte Bobcats in 2012, making him the first and only Alaskan to be a head coach in the NBA.

Known as a one of the sharpest basketball minds in the game, Dunlap also had talent with the baseball mitt, playing third base for the Alaska Goldpanners in 1976.

Dunlap, who currently coaches at his alma mater, spoke about being the first to break the barrier for those who come from the Last Frontier.

"I would say that winning two national championships, being the first Alaskan ever to finish his career as a Division I player. To be the first doing that was special at LMU, and kind of break the sound barrier for other Alaskans," Dunlap said over the phone. "I'm most proud of that, and to be the first Alaskan to be a head coach in the NBA. You know why did that happen? Because it was a young state."

Dunlap also noted the coaching he has seen throughout the years here in the 49th state.
He believes Alaska deserves more credit for how they prepare athletes for the next level and in life.

"The value based it reminds of the coaches I had climbing the ladder and move out of Alaska to continue this journey and if it weren't for them there's a lot of collection of great support. Whether it's hockey, baseball or basketball or whatever sport is done extremely well in Alaska," Dunlap added "I think everybody understands because of the climate that it's really an opportunity to shape the children that come out of Alaska. It's incredible and I don't think that the state gets enough credit for the tax dollars and the incredible teachers/coaches that are involved and coach up there."

Voting for the Class of 2020 will take place in November.