Dean Furlong preparing to play hoops at New York college

Dean Furlong dunks the ball while practicing at the Malibu High gym. The former Sharks basketball standout will be leaving for Sarah Lawrence College at the end of August. Photo by Larry Furlong

Basketball player Dean Furlong is dribbling closer to his college basketball dream. 

Furlong, a standout Malibu High Sharks basketball player, who graduated in the spring, has been practicing his craft in preparation of the beginning of his college basketball career at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. 

The slight 6-foot-6 wing player is really focused on getting stronger and gaining more weight. 

“It’s been a lot of work,” Furlong said. “I’ve been trying to work out every single day. I want to revamp my body in a way. The thing about college is, everyone is a better athlete, in better shape, and stronger, faster, and quicker. I’ve made a huge emphasis on trying to gain weight and lift weights every day.”

The 18-year-old has also been practicing his shot at his home court and in the Malibu High gym and has gotten his start on his college courses. 

Furlong, a history major, has already begun taking his first class. 

“It’s been a good summer,” he said.

The Sarah Lawrence Gryphons are a NCAA Division III team that competes in the Skyline Conference. They finished last season with an 8-17 record.

This past season Furlong helped lead Malibu to a 17-7 record and semifinal berths in two CIF postseason tournaments. He was selected to the All-Citrus Coast League’s first team and named to the All-CIF Southern Section team. Furlong led Malibu to a Citrus Coast League title his junior season. 

Richard Harris, the Sharks’ basketball coach before stepping down recently, said Furlong was one of the best basketball players in Malibu High’s history. He said Furlong’s skills improved throughout his years in high school.

“Dean was always a good decision maker and competent player,” Harris said. “Once he grew to 6-foot-6, his entire style changed. He used to let the game come to him, but his last two years, he started to be much more aggressive and just dominate games.” 

Furlong said his Malibu teammates helped prepare him for college basketball because all of them took the sport seriously. 

“They came to work every day,” he recalled. “I got lucky these last few years. We had a group of guys that wanted to get better.” 

He said the drive to improve hoops skills is something he expects his teammates at Sarah Lawrence to have. 

“I’m looking forward to having — one of the good things about college — is everyone that is there takes it serious,” Furlong said. “That is what I’m excited for. You want to be surrounded by people that take it serious and compete with people that are serious.” 

He said he hasn’t met any of his teammates in person yet, since most of them live in the New York area, but he is excited about getting to know them. 

Furlong leaves Malibu for Sarah Lawrence, which is in Bronxville, New York, on Aug. 26. The team will begin practicing later in the fall. 

Furlong is one of a few Malibu High basketball players that have moved onto college hoops. He is proud that he can represent Malibu basketball on the next level.

“It means at lot to me,” Furlong said. “It is a great honor. It’s great to do this after so many people in Malibu spent so much time supporting our team.” 

At the same time, Furlong said, he realizes Malibu isn’t known as a hotbed of hoops talent.

“I’m definitely going to have to prove myself,” he said. “It is something that puts a little chip on my shoulder. I’ve had it all my life.” 

Furlong could be an amazing college basketball player, according to Harris. 

“A lot depends on his role and the coach’s plan,” he said. “But Dean’s awareness, work ethic, size, unselfish style, and ability to shoot are all traits that translate to success in basketball.” 

Furlong is excited to step on a college basketball court.

“I can’t wait to play,” he said. “I can’t wait play in real games again. I can’t wait to say I have actually played in a college basketball game.”