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Virginia on Short List of Contenders for Point Guard Austin Nunez

Virginia on Short List of Contenders for Point Guard Austin Nunez

Tony Bennett extended a new Class of 2022 offer on Tuesday to Austin Nunez out of Garden Ridge, Texas. It’s just Virginia’s fourth offer in the class, and the first to a point guard. The smooth 6’2 lefty has collected over a dozen high-major offers now and is currently ranked as the 56th overall player in his class by the 247Sports composite.


How the Offer Went Down

It’s not surprising news. Virginia has been heavily involved in his recruitment for quite a while now. The offer was made during a 90-minute Zoom meeting, the third such call between Bennett and Nunez since August. Lupe Nunez, Austin’s dad, was kind enough to share some details of the meeting and the Virginia coaching staff’s message to his son.

To start, Nunez emphasizes that “Coach Bennett is great, as is Coach Getter,” and that "They're very thoughtful in underlining the key points of his value to UVA. and how he can help fill current voids.” Of course, Bennett’s appeal as a coach is undeniable as Austin’s dad notes that “Austin is excited for the chance to play for a Hall of Fame coach in the ACC."

Outside of basketball operations, Nunez pointed to how “they went over academics and the support staff, such as the facility, strength & conditioning coach, and the chef.”


Bennett's vision for Nunez

The recent commitment of Isaac McKneely has given Virginia momentum and a new selling point as they pitch playing alongside the Poca sharpshooter to potential classmates. As always, style of play and the role envisioned for a recruit is crucial. Tony Bennett was detailed in sharing his vision for Austin at UVA, as well as the type of lineup he wants surrounding his point guard.

“We asked a lot of questions and there was lots of back and forth in regards to playing style.” said Nunez’s father. “They love his feel for the game and the fact that he can score at three levels and really space the floor.” He adds that Bennett has made the comparison to the 2019 run and that roster, telling Austin that “to have him and the Isaac kid would be similar to what they had during the 2019 run. Lots of floor spacing coming from three to five spots.”


Assist from Ritchie

It’s a recruitment that really started over the summer. And as it turns out, Tony Bennett received some help greasing the wheels from an old friend.

This isn’t an ordinary situation of a parent trying to guide their son through the recruiting process. Lupe Nunez is a longtime major AAU program director, and was recognized last year as one of the top 100 most influential people in men’s college basketball by Silver Waves Media. He’s been involved in a lot of recruitments and seen college coaches work nearly every angle, but a phone call he received this past summer from Liberty Head Coach Ritchie McKay broke new ground.

With one of the kids from Nunez’s AAU program committed to Liberty, the former Bennett assistant at UVA gave Austin’s father a call. “He called me to speak highly of UVA,” Lupe remembers, “That was the most interesting call I’ve ever received. A head coach asking me to consider another school? It was unsolicited by UVA too. That’s as unique as it gets.”

Where Things Stand

While there’s been no official finalists named, Austin is essentially down to four schools. Virginia, Arkansas, Baylor, and Texas are the contenders. UVA is obviously the geographic outlier of the group, but that won’t be a major concern as Lupe emphasizes that “we are very open to him leaving the state and doing what’s best for him wherever that might be. His mom has family nearby also.”

I don't expect this to be a recruitment that drags on all that long. Austin and his family are very savvy, and have a clear idea of the deciding factors. They're already down to a handful of carefully selected options. He'd like to take official visits to all four schools. That could happen this Spring or early Summer, depending on when the NCAA lifts the current restrictions.

Virginia currently has four open scholarships for use by 2022 with Poca (WV) guard Isaac McKneely the lone commit. Austin Nunez joins St. Anne's Belfield (VA) guard Justin Taylor and Grand Island (NE) forward Isaac Traudt as active targets.

(Image: Marcus Sloan/Twitter)

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