By Kellan King
Dzmitry Ryuny is a 6’9 forward from Belarus, and he could just be the key to USF’s success next year. Ryuny burst onto the scene by hitting 7 threes in 2 games at the end of the 2018-19 season in his first real rotational minutes. He was the only bright spot during the 4-game losing streak to close out the season. Going into last year, he was in line to get minutes with the graduation of 3 key players. He started the season off strong, including leading the Dons with 18 points in a win over Cal State Fullerton. But as conference play started, Ryuny started getting fewer minutes, and his normally reliable shooting started to falter, shooting only 31% from 3 in conference play vs 45% in non-conference play.
Coming into this season, Ryuny projects to have an even bigger role for USF, and he may even be a starter. With the loss of key wing players Jordan Ratinho and Remu Raitanen to graduation and Charles Minlend to transfer, the Dons are left with Sophomore Josh Kunen, Redshirt Freshman Isiaih Hawthorne and Ryuny as their 3 options to start at the 2 forward spots.
Here’s the case for why Ryuny should get one of those 2 spots if the Dons want to compete in the WCC next year. First of all, Ryuny is one of the best, if not the best shooters on the team. Almost all of his shots in his career (nearly 83%) have come from 3, and he has shot a remarkable 42% from behind the arc. He can provide a ton of spacing for a team that at times desperately needed spacing last year. His shooting can open up the paint for USF’s exceptionally quick guards. Second of all, he has immense potential. Ryuny has shown a ton of athleticism, showing off his bounce with some dunks on social media, including this one. This athleticism and his long frame can help him become a very good perimeter defender and shot blocker for USF, although he does need to improve his aggressiveness, and maybe add a little weight to help him defend in the post. Thirdly, he has more experience than USF’s other options, playing with Belarus’ national team in addition to playing with USF. Also, he has more familiarity with the program, which could help given the uncertainties surrounding college basketball.
He does have to make some improvements though. At times last year, Ryuny looked uncomfortable dribbling, and often was hesitant to put the ball on the floor. If he wants to get minutes on a regular basis, he will have to improve his ball-handling and playmaking. He needs to be able to do something other then shoot, and if he can, he can be a real weapon on offense.
In conclusion, if Ryuny can make some improvements, he could just be the piece that puts USF’s offense over the top and helps them in their push to be the number 2 team in the WCC.