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Bengals’ ‘secret weapon’ bigger than his size


Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

Six-feet, four-inch junior Quinn Atazhoon (24) plays multiple positions for the Gallup boys’ basketball team. Bengal head coach Josh Dunlap says his big man can do just about everything he’s asked, even the job of a swift guard.

When most see all six feet and four inches of Quinn Atazhoon, they see a young man with one job — to protect the paint.

It is easy to see that Atazhoon belongs underneath the goal, but the Gallup High School junior is more than his height.

Gallup High School head basketball coach Joshua Dunlap said his big man can do just about everything he’s asked, even the job of a swift guard.

“He plays inside, he plays out,” he said. “Offensively, he’s probably one of the most skilled players I have ever coached. But the best thing about him is he knows when he needs to bring on the defense.”

Atazhoon was brought up to be a multi-faceted player; it became an aspect of his game that developed over time, and something that has swiftly become one of the Bengals’ secret weapons.

The now 17-year-old spent most of his childhood in Tucson, Ariz., but has roots in Oak Springs, Piñon, and Shiprock.

He said he remembers picking up a basketball when he was about four or five years old.

“I used to have a small hoop in the hallway, and a tiny ball,” he said. “My dad bought me that and I used to play all the time.”

Atazhoon is the son of former University of Arizona basketball player Cliff Johns and Gervana Begaye.

He grew up playing traveling basketball and in tournaments throughout the Southwest, and had his father as his trusty coach.

He said the more he played it, the more he grew attached to the sport.

“My dad …. he just brought me into the sport and I just fell in love with the sport,” Atazhoon said. “I just wanted to take off where he left off.”

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About The Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at or via cell at (505) 686-0769.


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