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January 9, 2003

ISD's Dorn is smooth as silk

From: Omaha World Herald, NE - 09 Jan 2003



He looks decidedly out of place.

His teammates are short. And although several of them have worked hard to become contributors on the Iowa School for the Deaf boys basketball team, it is quickly apparent that nothing comes easily to them. Fluidity is absent.

Then you glance at Edlin Dorn. All the fluidity missing from his teammates seems to have been poured into this 6-foot-8, 195-pound young man.

He dunks as effortlessly as you dunk on your grade-schooler's basement basket. He even manages to pose for the camera in mid-jam. No problem.

Dorn averages 28 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks per game for the 4-2 Bobcats, who begin the 2003 portion of their season Friday night at Minnesota Deaf. And while it's true Dorn dwarfs most of his competition, ISD Coach Dan Gradoville says his versatility makes him difficult to defend.

"He's more than just tall," Gradoville said. "He's athletic. He runs the floor. He can pass. He plays good defense. He's a pleasure to coach."

Gradoville said Dorn deserves some joy on the basketball court, after a childhood filled with heartache. He moved in with his aunt and uncle in Des Moines after enduring some family tragedy, and eventually found his way to the ISD campus as a sixth-grader.

"He's overcome some hardships," Gradoville said. "He's done well. He's a nice kid. He's real popular. He gets along well with everybody."

Dorn said he loved basketball from the time he started playing, at the age of 8 or 9. He lights up when he talks of his dunks. He averages about two per game. His favorite came earlier this season against Minnesota Deaf.

"It was a two-handed gorilla dunk!" he said. "I like it when I can get a steal and a breakaway."

Two summers ago, Dorn stepped out and played on a select team that included current Council Bluffs St. Albert standouts Matt O'Connor and Zac Gradoville, Dan Gradoville's son.

"He held his own," Dan Gradoville said. "I think that really did a lot for him."

After averaging about 12 points as a freshman, and 18 last season, Dorn should eclipse the 1,000-point barrier this year. The school record of 1,807 points, set by 1957 graduate Dennis Wernimont, is out of reach. Gradoville said Dorn has averaged about 15 rebounds throughout his career.

He also plays tight end and defensive end in football, and won the high jump at the Council Bluffs Relays as a freshman with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches.

The ISD coach said his prize student has the ability to play college basketball. Dorn said he'd be open to it, if the right opportunity presented itself.

"It would have to be the right situation, with the right support services available," Dan Gradoville said.

For now, Dorn's main concern is helping the Bobcats improve and eventually repeat as champions of the season-ending Great Plains Schools for the Deaf tournament.

"He's one of the best I've ever had," said Gradoville, in his 23rd year at ISD. "He certainly has the potential to be the best. He's still got a year and a half to develop. Sometimes I have to remind myself he's only a junior."

©2003 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved.