Home Virginia Basketball Notebook: So, Ryan Dunn actually committed to UVA as a walk-on?

Virginia Basketball Notebook: So, Ryan Dunn actually committed to UVA as a walk-on?

Chris Graham
ryan dunn
Photo: UVA Athletics

Ryan Dunn has been quite the pleasant surprise for Virginia this season, reminding more than a few people of former star De’Andre Hunter, a springy youth who blossomed into a lottery pick.

Hard as it is to believe, Dunn, a four-star prep recruit, actually committed to Virginia as a walk-on.

Tony Bennett gave us the backstory on that after UVA’s 76-57 win over Boston College on Saturday.

The story has a Boston College twist, actually two.

The way Bennett tells it, former BC coach Steve Donahue is the one who got him to take a look at Hunter as a prep recruit, and as they say, the rest is history there.

And then it was Donahue who tipped Bennett off to Dunn.

“I ran into Coach Donahue, and I said, any other De’Andre Hunters out there? He said, you know, there’s a guy he’s not quite like De’Andre, but you should take a look. He’s not getting recruited, but I think his upside, as he grows into his body, could be really good,” Bennett said.

Bennett got a look at Dunn, decided there was potential, and offered him a scholarship, but as Dunn was weighing his options, Bennett got a commitment from another big, Isaac Traudt, and with Traudt’s commitment, Bennett was out of scholarships for his 2022 recruiting class.

So Bennett had to call Dunn and tell him that bad news.

“And his father said, called me back like an hour later, and said, if he would consider coming on a visit and walking on without a scholarship, would you still take him? I was like, let me think about that,” Bennett said.

Dunn picks the story from there. It was his father, Edmund, who was insistent that Ryan give UVA another look, whether there was a scholarship available or not.

“On my first Zoom call with Tony Bennett, he loved him. He just loved what he was saying, he thought this was a great place for me,” Dunn said.

So, Dunn visited Charlottesville, “and there was a lot of signs that felt like I needed to be here. It felt like home, it felt comfortable to be around the team. So, I kind of knew where I wanted to be. I just wanted to make sure make sure my heart was right,” Dunn said.

Once he got that call that Virginia had no scholarships available, “it was kind of stressful. I felt like I let an opportunity slip,” Dunn said.

“But my father and my mom also were like, you know, just we’re going to do the best we can, we think this place you need to be, so we just, hey, if we had to pay, like, we will pay,” Dunn said.

“We prayed to make sure a scholarship opened up, and by the grace of God, a scholarship opened up in the spring. So, I think it’s just a blessing, the opportunity to be here,” Dunn said.

The other Boston College twist to the story: his brother, Justin, pitched at BC, going 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA as a junior in 2016, before being taken in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.

In four MLB seasons, with Seattle and Cincinnati, Justin Dunn is 6-7 with a 4.44 ERA in 32 starts.

In a 2016 outing against Virginia, Dunn struck out five and walked one in five shutout innings, allowing two hits in a 3-2 BC win.

Small world, there.

For Ryan Dunn, the chance to play at Virginia is a dream come true.

“His willingness to trust, that’s a place that I believe can, you know, help me, and it’s it’s a good place, so, it’s a long story, but it’s a pretty amazing story that you don’t hear every day,” Bennett said. “His willingness, his family’s willingness, to say, this is the place, I’ll make it happen, if I have to redshirt, if I have to walk on for a year, as long as, you know, I’ll come that way, and if one’s available, we’ll take it.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].