Barry Dunning Jr. has been named the Gatorade Boys Basketball Player of the Year in Alabama. The award, in its 36th year, recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court. Dunning is now a finalist for the National Player of the Year Award to be announced later this month.
“I woke up and I was just happy,” Dunning said. “My coach texted me and I was like, ‘Oh wow.’ It took me a while to comprehend it actually. It just makes me work harder to achieve my goals, and it means all the hard work is coming together. It was a great day.”
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound guard/forward averaged 21.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this season for the Yellow Jackets. He also recorded 3.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.
“It’s a humbling experience,” Dunning said. “It’s also a credit to my teammates, my parents, my coaches, all those who have supported me. I couldn’t have done anything without them.”
Dunning has said he plans to commit on Jan. 13 -- his mother’s birthday -- though now he feels like a decision could come sooner. In addition to his skills on the court, Dunning has volunteered locally at the James Seals Community Center and the Ronald McDonald House of Mobile and has donated his time as a youth basketball coach. He has maintained a 3.06 GPA in the classroom and represents one of the state’s top academic candidates in meeting the Gatorade award’s broad criteria.Dunning joins recent Gatorade Alabama Boys Basketball Players of the Year J.D. Davison (2019-20, Calhoun), Trendon Watford (2018-19 & 2017-18, Mountain Brook High School) and John Petty (2016-17, Jemison High School) among the state’s list of former award winners. Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Dunning has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of his choosing. He is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization he chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. Despite being named Player of the Year, Dunning said he has plenty to work on this summer. “I need to get stronger, get my body acclimated to the college level,” he said. “I need to sharpen my ball-handling, shoot the 3 more consistently, keep my mid-range game sharp and work on driving to the rim. Also, being a senior, I know I need to lead my team more and be more vocal.”