For the first time in Denver Pioneer soccer history, an MLS team selected a graduating Denver soccer senior in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, not once, but twice. Right back Reagan Dunk, a two-time all-American and the most decorated player in Denver history, was selected 13th overall by Real Salt Lake, and two picks later at #15, Denver midfielder Sam Hamilton, an native of Evergreen, Colo., was selected by the hometown Colorado Rapids.
These draft picks mark a high water mark in player development for the Denver soccer program. The Pioneers had six players selected in previous MLS drafts, but none of them were first round selections. A first round pick is validation that players produced at DU were not only good enough to be selected in the top 15 of all college seniors this year, but also shows prospective recruits that Denver is a now a truly elite place to develop as a player. This should really help DU in recruiting top players with professional aspirations.
First round draft picks from the five major professional sports at DU are quite rare. Dunk and Hamilton are the latest members in a very elite club of only six DU athletes in all of major American professional sports to be first round draft selections.
DU Hockey has 112 players drafted by the NHL over the years, but has had only four first round NHL draft picks in its 65+ year history. Craig Redmond was first at #6 in 1984, Joe Colborne next at #16 in 2008, Beau Bennett was selected at #20 in 2010 and current Pioneer Henrik Borgström, was selected 23rd in the 2016 NHL Draft.
DU has never had a first round pick in the NBA draft, although some 15 DU players have been selected over the years, the highest of whom was Byron Beck, a second round draft pick in the 1967 draft who had his number retired after a long and productive career with the Denver Nuggets in the ABA and NBA.
DU has also never had a first rounder in the NFL Draft, either, although seven Pioneers were drafted by NFL teams prior to DU dropping the sport in 1961. The highest DU football draft pick was Greg Browning, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 6th round of the 1945 NFL draft.
Pioneer baseball, which ceased at the varsity level in 1998, also has 16 overall players drafted by Major League Baseball teams back in the day, but no first round selections. The highest regular-drafted player in DU history was Dan Schatzeder, a third round pick in 1976, who went on to a 15-year Major League pitching career, whose career highlight was being the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1987 World Series with the Minnesota Twins.
Welcome to the club, Reagan and Sam.