Nobody has had a better year on the recruiting trail than Tony Bennett. The hot streak continued today when Ryan Dunn announced his commitment to Virginia. A 6’7 wing out of The Perkiomen School in Pennsylvania, Dunn is currently rated as a four-star prospect and the 95th overall player in the 247Sports composite. He’s the fourth and almost certainly last member of Bennett’s superb 2022 class.
Ryan Dunn’s Recruitment
Dunn was the ultimate summer sensation, a late bloomer that went overlooked until coaches had the opportunity to see him play in-person against top competition during live evaluation periods. He held one Division-1 offer from Stony Brook before June. By August, he had 15 offers from power conferences alone.
His rise started at a June live period event held in New Jersey. That’s where Virginia assistant coach Orlando Vandross first took notice. The staff continued to monitor him the rest of the summer, as offers from other major programs poured in. Tony Bennett kept his distance until the very last opportunity, when he made a special trip to Atlantic City to watch Dunn during the final live weekend in late July. A few days later, an offer was extended.
Dunn released a Top 8 in August, and wasted no time going about his process. He quickly took three official visits on consecutive weekends to Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Virginia. The biggest threat probably came from Jeff Capel and the Panthers. But it always felt like Virginia was the favorite as long as Bennett stayed with it, and there wasn’t much doubt he would do that. This is one the UVA boss clearly decided at first sight he had to have.
Virginia under Bennett has had incredible success with players that made a name for themselves in their final summer of AAU. Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, and DeAndre Hunter all fit into that category of Bennett’s July discoveries. Their recruiting stories weren’t so different from Ryan Dunn’s.
What Ryan Dunn Brings to Virginia
His excellent shooting and defensive versatility provide Dunn with a solid base to grow from. A 40%+ three-point shooter in both high school and AAU competition, that’s his best offensive skill. When you combine that with his physical tools, a well above average athlete with a 7-foot wingspan, the potential upside is very high.
Positionally, Dunn is a guard all the way. He’s not going to be a small-ball power forward. Maybe very occasionally down the road after he fills out physically, but he’s exclusively a perimeter player at this point. Igor Milicic and Leon Bond are more likely to be the combo forwards of the future in this modernized generation of multi-positional Hoos Bennett has assembled.
Already a graduate of Long Island Lutheran, currently doing a prep year at Perkiomen, Dunn has the option to enroll early. There’s a good possibility that’ll happen. If so, he would join the team in the second semester as a redshirt. Strength coach Mike Curtis would be his best friend, that’s for sure. A long lanky guy, physical development will be very important to his success at Virginia.
This is the kind of recruit that in hindsight years from now people will probably wonder why he wasn’t higher ranked and more heavily recruited. While maybe a little rough around the edges, Dunn is really an elite talent. He’s also an extremely polite young man who’s clearly grateful for the opportunity.
Virginia’s Recruiting Going Forward
Dunn and Done
With the addition of Ryan Dunn, Virginia is up to 11 scholarship players for the 2022-23 season, not including potential returning seniors. That’ll definitely be it for November’s early signing period. They won’t pursue any other 2022 recruits. Barring a major surprise, this should be the last commit until after the season.
Turning the Page
The coaching staff will now turn their full attention toward the 2023 class. They’ll try to fill in the gaps around the 2022 haul. They seem to be laying the groundwork for a three-man class.
A point guard is the first priority. They decided to pass on filling that spot this year. It created an urgent need for 2023, but also a golden opportunity for the right recruit. The only player with an offer so far, Caleb Foster, is already off the board to Duke. It’s still very early. A lot of lead guards were evaluated over the summer. That was where the most time was spent, knowing how important it would be. Over the next few weeks, as coaches continue to make their rounds, we should learn which players they’ll focus on.
The most intriguing recruit, and top overall target at this point, is North Laurel (KY) guard Reed Sheppard. Bennett was just in to see him on Thursday. He’s scheduled for an official visit in early October. This will be a two-team race between UVA and Kentucky. His family ties to UK run deep, but most neutral observers recognize he’s probably a better fit with Bennett. It’ll be a fascinating story to follow.
Another forward is on the agenda as well. Bennett’s first trip of the recruiting period was to Ridge View (SC) for Gregory Jackson. He’s a five-star talent, with Duke and North Carolina in pursuit. We expect him to visit over the next couple months. Bennett has been to see a couple other potential targets, but Jackson is the only frontcourt player to receive an offer at this early stage.
It’s the start of a new cycle. We’ll have every step of the journey covered on Locker Room Access.
What A Year
Tony Bennett has had some great classes at Virginia, certainly his masterpiece of 2016 tops the list. But this is his best calendar year of recruiting. There have been seven additions since the start of 2021. Isaac McKneely, Armaan Franklin, Jayden Gardner, Igor Milicic, Leon Bond, Isaac Traudt, and finally Ryan Dunn. It’s been almost a work of perfection, in terms of getting the players they wanted most that fill both short and long term needs.
They’re all high-level players, but also really good people who will fit into the program’s culture. Easy to root for. That’s always been the best part of the Bennett era, in my opinion.