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Tony Bennett says that he’s loved Ryan Dunn’s progression this offseason

Coaches and players have been impressed by Dunn’s growth since the end of last season.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In his preseason local media availability, Virginia Cavaliers Head Coach Tony Bennett emphasized how he’s been encouraged by sophomore Ryan Dunn’s progression since he arrived on Grounds last year, and especially this offseason. Of course, Dunn wasn’t always slated to be the player and potential star that he very well could be this year.

“He played 11 minutes a game for us last year,” Bennett said. “He was going to come in and potentially walk on if we didn’t have a scholarship, potentially redshirt if he wasn’t ready. It’s all happening so fast for Ryan.”

Yet while it’s happening quickly, there are obvious reasons why it’s been hard to keep Dunn off the floor, and Bennett is aware of them.

“The reason he played is he brought an incredible energy and defensive activity,” he said. “And I said [to him this offseason] ‘Never forget that.’ Has his game developed? Absolutely.”

Louisville v Virginia
Ryan Dunn is primed for a breakout season for Virginia this year.
Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

As Bennett noted, since the end of last season, Dunn has grown as a player. That’s been evident for his teammates as well.

“He’s expanding his game,” said Jordan Minor. “Just seeing him through the summer to now, he’s really expanded his game and he’s been really great on [offense]. That’s something that’s going to be important for him. But then defensively too, it’s going to be an amazing year for him.”

Bennett added that “he’s gotten stronger, he’s improved, he’s gotten better, and he’s just got to keep working. He’s kind of newer to the game, so at times you see that. But I love his progression.”

His offensive game has been an obvious area of emphasis, and Dunn himself believes that he’s ready to contribute more on that end this season while remaining focused on being a difference maker defensively.

“I feel like my shot has improved and my ball handling has improved,” he said, adding that last year was also a great opportunity for him to prepare him to be an elite defender this year. “I feel like I can defend a lot of [positions]. Guarding some of those elite guys [last season] was really good for me, I feel like I got a lot out of that.”

“I’ve told him, you have to be a defensive monster for us,” added Bennett when asked about Dunn’s role this season. “He’s got to use that athleticism, that quickness, and he’s going to help us on the glass in a big way because we don’t have as much size.”

Positional versatility is another key trait that Dunn brings to the floor, both as a defender of various types of players and as an offensive threat who can play in the paint or on the perimeter.

“He can guard multiple positions, he can play some four spot, and he’s played some three. That’s the hope,” said Bennett, confirming that Dunn brings “versatility, certainly guarding and then also continuing to make some of those plays [offensively] to be that swing player.”

The Wahoos tip off their 2023-2024 season A WEEK FROM TODAY. Stay tuned to the blog and our season countdown page for plenty of content before things get underway against Tarleton State in less than 170 hours.